Wiltshire Police is urging people living with abuse or hate crime during lockdown to stand up to their tormentor and report any incidents.

The Force, which has a zero-tolerance approach to hate crime, is using LGBT+ History Month to make people from those communities aware that living with hate crime isn't acceptable at any time but particularly in a 'lockdown' situation where victims may not be able to escape.

While nationally, hate crime referrals rose 62%* over last summer, with the majority involving sexual orientation, race or nationality, Wiltshire has only seen a 3% uptick in hate crime reports during the pandemic, compared to the same period the year before.

However, Deputy Chief Constable Paul Mills said just because the county's increase was smaller than the national figures did not make it any less acceptable.

"Lockdown and restricted movement has impacted on everyone's civil liberties," he said.

"But imagine if that also meant that you were unable to escape any abuse that was directed at you for your gender or sexual orientation, things you are unable to have any control over, and how acutely that impact would be felt.

"Feelings of being trapped within a home, of no escape from abusive behaviour, scared to even sit in your own garden is not how anyone should be made to live.

"Behind every crime there is a victim, another human being, and incidents such as these can leave a life-long lasting impact.

"All forms of hate crime are completely unacceptable and the Force will do all it can to investigate reports and ensure those who carry them out are appropriately dealt with."

Wiltshire and Swindon's Police and Crime Commissioner Angus Macpherson added: "Hatred has no place in our modern society and that is exactly how it should be.

"For most people, hate crime is difficult to understand. 

"That one person can be so hateful to another - being verbally or physically abusive towards them, threatening and intimidating them simply because they are seen as different - is beyond most people's comprehension. It is the minority that do this.  

"Sadly, hate crime is not something that happens elsewhere. It happens here in Wiltshire, in our towns, in our communities, to our neighbours, our friends, and our colleagues.  As individuals, and as a community, we should be respectful and embracing of each other's differences and the diversity they bring. 

"As a society, we have come so far in terms of acceptance, education and awareness but there is still work to do. We should all be free to be who we want to be, live how we want without fear, hatred and prejudice – no matter their gender or sexual orientation."

Victims of hate crime can call 101 to report instances or use our online reporting tool: www.wiltshire.police.uk/hatecrime.