Hate crime appears to be increasing across Swindon and Wiltshire according to the latest figures for this year's lockdown period which are highlighted in our current Summer Demand campaign.
Between 24 March 2020 and the end of July 2020 we saw 290 hate crimes reported compared to 256 for the same period in 2019 - a rise of 13 percent.
However, there was a drop in overall figures from last year to this: 637 hate crimes were reported in Swindon and Wiltshire between April 2019 and March 2020 compared to last year's figure (2018/2019) of 678.
Our Summer Demand campaign aims to educate the public on being mindful of discrimination as well as encouraging those who need to report it.
Five "hate crime strands" are currently monitored for offences, they are: race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity and disability.
Here are the latest figures for Swindon and Wiltshire compared to the past two years, which reflect increases in disability, transgender and religious hate crimes:
Sexual orientation hate crime: 2017/2018 = 55 2018/2019 = 93 2019/2020 = 95
Inspector Simon Cowdrey, Force lead for Hate Crime, said: "Hate Crime comes in many forms - from the extreme to what may appear to be an innocent but inappropriate discriminatory comment.
"This year's Summer Demand campaign aims at highlighting how sometimes a simple comment or even joke may be offensive in the context of a hate crime and how to avoid that situation.
"There is never any excuse for it; as a Force we take all reports seriously and will respond robustly to anyone committing these crimes.
"We want everyone to have the confidence to report these types of crimes to us and to keep reporting them and I am certain this campaign will help with that; it's all about education and keeping the discussions in the public domain."
Wiltshire and Swindon Police and Crime Commissioner Angus Macpherson said: "Hate crime is never to be tolerated and I hope this latest campaign will help inform people about their use of language and general behaviour in relation to discrimination.
"No-one should feel threatened or unsafe because of who they are, the life they live and beliefs they hold; we are all human irrespective of race, sexuality, gender, disability or religion. Everyone deserves to be able to live peacefully in our world with all its wonderful diversity.
"We all need to work together to stop hate crime - please report it if you are a victim or you know someone who has been targeted. The police will take you seriously.
"I am proud to say that Wiltshire Police so far has 89 trained Hate Crime Advisors; these are officers who have the necessary skills and knowledge to help victims as well as pointing them in the right direction for extra help if needed - like the Victim Support charity.
"Of course, you will also receive good support from Horizon - the victim and witness care service."
OPCC Victims and Vulnerability Commissioning Manager, Maria Milton, said: "Hate crimes can cause lasting physical and emotional damage, victims are often left with feelings of despair and anxiety.
"I encourage victims to report these crimes and access the information, support and assistance available."