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9 October 2016, 11:27
A new network of LGBTI liaison officers has been established with Police Scotland to improve the reporting of hate crimes.
The force said offences based on disability, sexuality, race, religion or sexual orientation often go unreported, so senior officers want people to be aware they can use third-party reporting through a list of charities and community groups.
Chief Constable Phil Gormley said tackling intolerance and prejudice is an "absolute priority'' for Police Scotland, with about 90 officers training with the Equality Network, Scotland's national lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) equality charity, to help prevent such crimes.
Officers have also worked with the I Am Me charity to provide support for people with disabilities at the start of national Hate Crime Awareness Week.
Mr Gormley said: "Every incident has a significant impact on the victim, their family and wider communities.
"I am asking the people of Scotland to continue to work with us to ensure every incident is reported to the police.
"We recognise that hate crime often goes unreported and there are many reasons why people don't come forward and raise their concerns, but we must work together to ensure hate crime has no place in our communities.
"Hate crime can manifest itself in lots of different ways, for example offensive graffiti, having your property vandalised, having your belongings stolen, people swearing or making abusive remarks making you feel intimidated or harassed, through online abuse, being threatened or being physically attacked.
"All of this behaviour is completely unacceptable and, whether criminal or not, Police Scotland wants to know about it in order to avoid behaviour escalating and being unchallenged.''
The officers trained by the Equality Network are part of a new network of LGBTI liaison officers who can be contacted by the public. The officers will also advise colleagues on LGBTI issues.
Equality Network director Tim Hopkins said: "We were happy to provide training on LGBTI hate crime issues to nearly 100 police officers across Scotland earlier this year and it's great to see that Police Scotland have now set up a national network of liaison officers.
"This will help LGBTI people have the confidence to report hate incidents to the police and will mean that there should always be a police officer they can make contact with who has an understanding of LGBTI issues.''