Four hundred and nine incidents of hate crime were recorded in Milton Keynes last year - the highest number in the whole of the Thames Valley area.
The shocking figure was released as the force launches the latest phase of its 18 month Hidden Harm campaign today, aimed at raising awareness of abuse happening in the heart of our communities.
A hate crime is any type of crime committed against a person which is perceived to be motivated by their race, religion, sexual orientation, disability or transgender identity.
Last year 2,369 hate crimes were recorded across Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire.
That means every day the force receives at least six reports of people being abused because of who they are, how they look or what they believe in.
Despite this high number, it is likely that many more hate crimes are being committed but not being reported. The campaign seeks to encourage both victims and witnesses to come forward and report this type of abuse either to the police or Victims First, partners of the campaign.
Chief Inspector Helen Roberts said:“Hate crimes can have serious, long term physical, emotional and financial effects on the lives of those who experience them.
“They can happen anywhere, even online and can take many forms, including threats, intimidation, damage to property and physical attacks.
“No one should ever be the victim of hate crime, and it’s vital that people come forward and report these offences, whether it’s happened to them or someone else so we can keep people safe from harm.
“We will not tolerate hate crime in the Thames Valley.”
Thames Valley Police will be working with partners throughout the campaign and sharing powerful true stories from both members of the public and officers who have suffered this type of abuse.
They will talk about the impact being a victim of hate crime has had on them, from not wanting to leave the house, falling ill and even feeling suicidal.
Thames Valley Police officers and colleagues in other public service roles will also be reminded that they should not have to tolerate hate crime at work and that it is not just ‘part of the job’.
Anthony Stansfeld, Police and Crime Commissioner for Thames Valley, said: “Hate crime can be devastating for victims and communities. To be targeted for who you are is very personal. It can leave victims frightened, isolated and powerless, and communities fearful and vulnerable.
“Hate crime is not something which should be tolerated in our communities which is why it is important we continue to raise awareness to encourage both victims and witnesses to come forward and report it, either to the police or to my Victims First third party reporting service.
“If you have been a victim of hate crime then Victims First is also here to provide help to recover from that experience, including face to face support, advocacy and therapeutic counselling. If you need support, you can speak to a member of Victims First staff on 0300 1234 148.”
This phase of the campaign will be running from today (October 8) to 21 October and will coincide with National Hate Crime Awareness Week (October 13-20).
More information on the Hidden Harm campaign and hate crime, can be found on the Thames Valley Police website: www.thamesvalley.police.uk/hiddenharm