Citizens Advice offices in Lancashire are to become third party reporting centres for hate crime in the county.
The new service, which is being run in partnership with Lancashire Constabulary, will be launched in Chorley, Leyland, Fleetwood and Skelmersdale during Interfaith Week (November 12-16).
More than 45 staff and volunteers at Citizens Advice Lancashire have been trained to support victims and help them report incidents of hate crime to police online.
Hate crimes are those targeted at someone because of hostility or prejudice towards their race or ethnicity, disability, religion, sexual orientation or transgender identity.
Donna Hussain, research, learning and development manager for Citizens Advice Lancashire, said: “There has been a huge rise in hate crimes across the country but many victims do not feel comfortable attending a police station or having police officers visiting them at home.
“Sometimes those targeted feel an incident is too minor to report to police or they lack confidence to do so.
“By launching this service we are offering victims and witnesses the support they need to report hate incidents – anonymously if they wish – so that police can act quickly to prevent any escalation in seriousness.”
Nagina Ali, of Lancashire Constabulary south division, said: “We are delighted that Citizens Advice Lancashire has become a third-party reporting centre and we hope it will encourage victims to report incidents so that we can investigate fully.”
Anyone wishing to report a hate crime can call Citizens Advice on 0344 245 1294 between 9am and 5pm Monday to Friday. Or call in to the Citizens Advice centres at: 35-39 Market Street, Chorley; The Concourse, Skelmersdale; 122 Poulton Road, Fleetwood; and 78 Towngate, Leyland.