A new initiative to tackle hate crimes has been launched in Rotherham following the racist murder of a Muslim pensioner.
Retired steelworker Mushin Ahmed, 81, was kicked to death by Dale Jones and Damien Hunt after they attacked him as he made his way to morning prayers at his local mosque in August 2015.
Police have now launched Operation Solar over concerns that hate crime is being under-reported in the town. It follows increased racial tensions following the town’s child sexual exploitation scandal, largely involving men largely of Pakistani heritage.
A new email address - firstname.lastname@example.org - has been launched for people to anonymously report suspected hate crimes.
Chief Inspector Richard Butterworth said: “We want to give victims the confidence to come forward and reassure Rotherham communities that hate crime of any form will not be tolerated. Despite our best efforts to encourage those affected to call 101 or speak to police officers, sometimes this is just too daunting and people are worried about making a ‘formal’ report.”
Information received will be used to identify hotspots and emerging trends, co-ordinate police activity and provide a targeted response.
It will also allow officers to run covert investigations including using cameras to pursue offenders.
Mr Butterworth said the murder of Mr Ahmed ‘sent shockwaves through the Rotherham community and is exactly the kind of behaviour that we are working tirelessly to prevent’.
He added: “We know that the publication of the Jay Report in 2014 into CSE in Rotherham has had an impact on local communities as well as the number of demonstrations that have been held in the town. Op Solar will help us to bring those who commit hate crimes to justice and help communities in Rotherham live side by side without fear or prejudice.”
Examples of hate crime or hate-related incidents are cases where the offender’s prejudice or hostility is caused by someone’s disability, race or ethnicity, religion or belief, sexuality or transgender identity.
Dr Alan Billings, South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “We must work together to encourage more victims to report hate crime and to ensure that they are able to do so in any way that they feel comfortable.
“South Yorkshire Police has been working intensively with the Rotherham community to launch Operation Solar and I hope that this will increase trust and confidence that they will investigate offences and support criminal prosecutions where it is appropriate.
“I would like to send a clear message that hate crime, of any kind, will not be tolerated in Rotherham or anywhere else in South Yorkshire.”
Councillor Chris Read, leader of Rotherham Council, said: “Hate crime can have a devastating impact on people. Victims of hate crime shouldn’t suffer; we recognise that not all victims of hate crime will feel comfortable coming forward which is why this approach is vitally important and has our full support.
“We hope that people will find the confidence to report incidents. Abuse based on prejudice and discrimination will not be tolerated in our communities.”