Being you is not a crime, targeting you is - that's the message from Northumbria Police during National Hate Crime Awareness Week.
The Force is holding a series of events and initiatives based around hate crime during the week, which starts today and runs until Sunday.
The aim is to raise awareness around what hate crime is, the work that police and partners do to tackle it and the support that is out there for victims of hate crime.
A crime is considered to be a hate crime if someone has been targeted because of a protected characteristic, these include: race, faith, religion, disability, gender identity, age or sexual orientation.
Anyone can report a hate crime – victims, families, carers or someone unrelated to a victim who has been witness to an incident.
Northumbria Police works with groups from across the region to raise awareness in hate crime all year round. Activity this week includes; Attending community meetings, holding drop-in sessions, running education inputs at schools, holding a social media Q+A sessions and taking part in local activities and initiatives.
Detective Chief Inspector Deborah Alderson, from Northumbria Police 's protecting vulnerable people unit, said: "Targeting anyone because of who they are is not acceptable - this is a hate crime.
"If you have been hurt, threatened, abused, harassed or intimidated or suffered any other crime because of your race, faith, disability, sexual orientation, age or gender Identity, this is hate crime.
"Report hate crime to the police, or if you prefer confidentially via a third party reporting scheme such as a Safe Reporting Centre, True Vision or Arch.
"If you are the carer of a disabled person or one of your family members is disabled and you are hurt, threatened, abused, harassed or intimidated or suffer any other crime because of a prejudice or hostility based on this individuals disability this is also a hate crime. You must report it.
"Hate crime is an issue that we take incredibly seriously as a force and we can not underestimate the impact it has on victims. We abosultely support National Hate Crime Week and will taking part in many activities this week with our partners and the community to help raise awareness in what is a very serious issue."
Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Vera Baird, is backing the week long initiative. She said: "“I give my 100 per cent full support to Hate Crime Awareness Week. There’s no place in our society for intolerance and prejudice and it will certainly not be tolerated by Northumbria Police.
"This week is all about engaging with all members of the public to raise awareness and highlight all the support that is on offer across our region.
"It is really important that victims of every community have the confidence to report hate crimes, if not to the police, to one of the partner agencies.
"My message to anyone suffering any form of prejudice or discrimination is to speak up. Please - do not suffer alone – help is at hand."
Throughout the week police will be running the 'Being you is not a crime. Targeting you is' campaign, encouraging people to come forward and speak to police and partners about hate crime.
Any hate crime can be reported at Safe Reporting Centres across the force area. Full details of Safe Reporting Centres are detailed on the Northumbria Police website.
Hate crime can be reported to police using 101 in a non-emergency or 999 in an emergency.
Hate crime can also be reported through non-police agencies such as True Vision or ARCH.