Victims of Islamophobic abuse can now report incidents using a new telephone service thanks to funding from Lancashire’s Police and Crime Commissioner and Lancashire Partnership Against Crime (LANPAC).
A dedicated third-party reporting service for victims of anti-Muslim abuse, run by the Lancashire Council of Mosques (LCM), aims to raise awareness of the problem and launched on Friday (February 26) following a £2,500 grant from Clive Grunshaw and £1,500 from LANPAC.
The inspiration for the helpline came from a detailed study by Professor Paul Iganski at Lancaster University, carried out through Lancashire County Council.
The research, titled ‘Crime and Religion in Lancashire’ and supported by the Commissioner and Lancashire Police, recommended setting up a dedicated, local phone line to record Islamophobic hate crime.
The Commissioner said: “All forms of hate crime are unacceptable and they can be deeply distressing for victims. Sadly, we know that many people do not report these incidents, not just in Lancashire but across the country.
“Here in Lancashire we rightly pride ourselves on having a diverse and inclusive community and this project shows the commitment of LCM, the police, LCC and my office to supporting victims of hate crimes. I hope this service will give anyone who feels they may have been the victim of Islamophobic abuse the confidence to come forward.”
The money was awarded as part of the Commissioner’s Community Action Fund. It will be used to help promote the helpline within the community and raise awareness.
Stuart Noble, Chief Superintendent at Lancashire Police said: “The launch of the anti-Muslim hate crime reporting line is a ground breaking local service aimed at raising awareness and understanding of reporting hate crime, as well as increasing confidence within the community.
“It is a joint initiative between Lancashire Constabulary, Lancashire Council of Mosques, the Office of Police and Crime Commissioner and Lancashire County Council and builds on Lancashire’s success and progressive approach to working with third party reporting centres and the Strategic Hate Crime and Cohesion Group.”
Abdul Hamid Qureshi, Lancashire Council of Mosques chairman, said: “This shows that when research comes in front of us, we do take action. This is a unique project in the county and we hope we will rise to the challenge.”
Details were circulated during Friday prayers at Lancashire mosques and at the county’s madrasas, where children were handed a fridge magnet with details of the helpline.
The county-wide service is based in Blackburn and serves Lancashire’s Muslim community, building on the expertise of LCM, which has been running for 26 years. It means victims can report crimes even if they do not feel confident going to the police.
All staff manning the phone line have been trained and supported by Lancashire Police. It operates from Monday to Friday, between 9.30am and 12.20pm and from 2pm to 5pm. Out of hours, people can leave a message, which will be picked up by members of the LCM administration team.
Mr Grunshaw added: “Lancashire Police will investigate all reports of hate crime sensitively and thoroughly and I would urge anyone who feels they may have been a victim to report it. This can be directly to the police, via a third-party reporting service like this or through Lancashire Victim Services, which I commission to support anyone affected by crime in the county.
“Only by facing the problem can we tackle it head on and give victims the support they need.”
Anyone who feels they may have been the victim of Islamophobic hate crime can call the service on 01254 589699. Incidents can still be reported directly to police on 101. Always dial 999 in an emergency.