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Respect in our communities - working together to tackle hate crime

In this week's blog, Alison discusses the relaunch of Plymouth Respect Festival and the importance of working together to ensure that we build a society based on acceptance and tolerance.

Over the past few years, our country has witnessed a spate of terrorist attacks fuelled by hatred.

Yet, after each of these horrific incidents our local communities unite together with an outburst of love and kindness.

Following the attack at the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester in May 2017, my team and I took to the streets of Plymouth and Exeter.

We spoke to a range of people, reassuring and encouraging them to report any concerns or suspicions they had to the Devon and Cornwall Police or the anti-terrorism hotline.

Whilst visiting Drakes Circus, I was joined by Sergeant Graham Little, from Plymouth Police Diverse Communities’ Team and Julie Paget, from Plymouth and Devon Racial Equality Council (PDREC). 

PDREC is committed to working in partnership with organisations and individuals to build a fair and equal society without any prejudice, discrimination and racism.

I was delighted to hear that PDREC was planning to re-establish and re-launch Plymouth Respect Festival for 2018. 

The festival originally launched in 1998 and has continued to grow in popularity over the past 20 years.

Over the last two years, however, austerity had set in and funding had become more scarce causing PDREC to make the tough decision of cancelling the event in 2016 and 2017.

I am dedicated to helping and supporting any event which endorses inclusivity and makes our communities safer environments for everyone to live, work and play.

Therefore, I have committed a modest amount of financial support for the event along with use of some additional resource.

Members of my engagement team have been working alongside PDREC, Plymouth Police Diverse Communities Team and other organisations to get Plymouth Respect Festival back up and running for the summer.

Respect and diversity events play a key role in connecting communities as it allows people to learn about different cultures and subsequently breaks down the barriers of negative stereotypes.

Plymouth is one of our many vibrant multi-cultural cities in the south west and free events such as this are an excellent opportunity for the whole city to come together to promote the intrinsic message of respect and equality for all.

We must not tolerate any form of hate crime in our communities and work together to ensure that we build a society of acceptance and tolerance.

For those who may be unaware, hate crime is defined as crime which is perceived to be motivated by prejudice or hostility towards any aspect of a person’s identity. 

There are five main aspects of hate crime; disability; gender identity; race, equality or nationality; religion, faith or belief and sexual orientation.

I want to take this chance to encourage my readers who have witnessed or been a victim of hate crime to come forward.

It is important that all forms of hate crime incidents are reported as without knowledge of a crime taking place, the police cannot record it or investigated it appropriately. 

If you do not feel comfortable contacting the police, there are a variety of third party reporting services you can use such as Stop Hate UK (0800 138 1625) and Crimestoppers (0800 555 111).

Last year the police’s diverse communities’ teams launched their ‘zero tolerance to hate crime’ campaign.

This campaign asks organisations to pledge their support and to send a powerful message to our communities that they have zero tolerance to any incident of hate.

You can find more information about hate crime, third party reporting and the ‘zero tolerance to hate crime’ campaign on Devon and Cornwall Police’s website.

It is excellent news that this year Plymouth Respect Festival will return once more to the city.

This fantastic event has been sorely missed in my team’s engagement calendar and I am really looking forward it its return to the city on Saturday 14 July. 

If you would like to get involved with Plymouth Respect Festival either as a volunteer, stallholder or performer, please get in touch the Plymouth and Devon Racial Equality Council.

There have been talks taking place recently and it looks like Cornwall will soon also be holding a respect and equality event which is excellent news.

I am always looking for new opportunities to engage with our communities in Devon and Cornwall. If you would like us to attend an event in your home town, then get in touch with my office via