The station will today became the first in Scotland to have a Third Party Reporting Centre – as the city stages Scotland’s first Hate Crime Awareness Week.
Staff at the station have been trained to support anyone who has experienced hate crime and to take statements which, if the victim wishes, can be passed to Police Scotland or British Transport Police for investigation.
A new advertising campaign highlighting the issue of hate crime and urging anyone affected to report it will also be launched.
Glasgow is holding Scotland’s first Hate Crime Awareness Week to tackle under-reporting and encourage victims to speak out. Posters will be displayed on public transport, at Central Station and on social media.
A hate crime is one where the victim is targeted because of their race, religion or sexual orientation or because they have a disability or are transgender.
City agencies believe many hate crimes go unreported often because they are concerned that a report may complicate the matter or fearing prejudice from the authorities.
Glasgow now has more than 60 Third Party Reporting Centres including housing associations, Victim Support, Glasgow Disability Alliance and Glasgow Asylum and Refugee Service. These are safe places which people regularly visit and where staff have been trained by Police Scotland to support victims.
A recent report by the Equality Network reveals that that despite recent advances in the law and social attitudes LGBT people still face widespread inequality in Scotland. Felix Rayna, a 24 year old gay man from the north east of Scotland who recently moved to London to escape prejudice, said: “I came out at the age of 15, living in a small rural town on the north east coast. It wasn’t easy for me to hide who I was and I was verbally assaulted on a daily basis by other students in my high school and even people in the street. Teachers would tell me I was ‘bringing it on myself’ because of how I dressed, because of who I was.
“At 17 I was physically assaulted by three men who punched me in the head. I didn’t feel I had anyone to go to and I didn’t think there was any point reporting it to the police. These memories and the narrow-mindedness of people in my town left me hating the place. I stopped going outside and would only get jobs that were at least an hour away so people didn’t recognise me. This week, at age 24, I moved to London and can honestly say I will never return to the place I once called home. Not after 9 years of hiding away from the world and being scared to walk down my own street.”
In another report a lesbian woman from Argyll said: “Receptionist in an NHS hospital reacted adversely when my next of kin was identified as my civil partner. She slammed down her pen on the desk and waved me away.”
Councillor Fariha Thomas, Chair of Glasgow’s Hate Crime Working Group, said: “Hate Crime is appalling and can have a devastating effect on victims… We know this type of crime is massively under-reported, so this new advertising campaign is designed to encourage people to speak out and let them know that support is available.”
“Hate Crime Awareness Week is marked annually in England but Glasgow is the first Scottish local authority to stage such an event. We are proud to be leading the way in Scotland. Obviously work to tackle hate crime goes on in the city all year round but a special week such as this helps raise public awareness and it is great that Central Station has become the city’s latest Third Party Reporting Centre.”
Mark Ilderton, Network Rail station manager for Glasgow Central, said: “Glasgow Central is Scotland’s biggest and busiest station and victims or witnesses who do not feel comfortable speaking directly to the police around Hate Crime now have the opportunity to speak to one of our team instead.
“Many of our customer service team have now been trained to assist victims in submitting a report to the police, or we can also do so on their behalf. We’re proud to be able to offer our support to this worthwhile initiative.”
Inspector Lynda Lang of British Transport Police (BTP) welcomed Glasgow’s first Hate Crime Awareness Week.
She said: ” Hate crime in any form is totally unacceptable in our society and BTP works closely with our rail industry and other partners to ensure the rail network is free from such despicable behaviour. BTP takes hate crime seriously and the establishment of the Third Party reporting facility at Glasgow Central Station is a welcome development. Every reported Hate Crime is fully investigated and anyone who is the victim can utilise a number of ways of reporting it, including BTP’s discrete 61016 text facility.”
Sergeant Graeme Stirling of Police Scotland added: “Police Scotland realises the importance of making it as easy and straight-forward as possible for people to report hate crimes. Third Party Reporting is a vital part of that process and one where Police Scotland and partners are supporting victims in the community.”
Conceit Wurst, the creation of Tom Neuwirth, a 27 year old Austrian who has experienced anti-gay prejudice and social rejection, has highlighted the effects of hate crime and prejudice in an exclusive interview for KaleidoScot today. Tom has had to fight for acceptance and is still working to rid himself of his insecurities.
Members of the Active Life Club in Govanhill will stage a free comedy show in the Adelphi Centre, Gorbals, on October 15th as part of Hate Crime Awareness Week. The show, called An Evening at 7-8-6 The Coconut Curry, will feature actor Omar Raza and be directed by Cora Bisset. The performance will take a comical look at stereotypes and prejudice in society today. Anyone wishing to attend should email email@example.com to register.
Find out more about the campaign to combat Hate Crime and Glasgow’s Third Party Reporting Centres
Hate Crimes can also be reported online via Police Scotland’s website