Tackling Hate Crime is a key priority, Scotland's Lord Advocate will today tell Glasgow community and voluntary groups.
Frank Mulholland QC will address delegates at Glasgow Hate Crime Working Group's Don't Stay Silent event.
Housing providers, community groups and Third Sector organisations will gather to hear how they could help prevent Hate Crimes, support victims and assist in bringing those responsible to justice. The audience will take in workshops and learn how community organisations can become Third Party Reporting Centres which support victims to report incidents.
A Hate Crime is one where the victim is targeted because of their race, religion or sexual orientation or because they have a disability or are transgender.
City agencies believe many Hate Crimes go unreported - sometimes because people don't realise the abuse they have experienced is a Hate Crime or because they are reluctant to report it directly to the police.
Baillie Fariha Thomas, Chair of Glasgow Hate Crime Working Group, will welcome delegates to the free awareness raising event.
She said: "Glasgow's Hate Crime Working Group is dedicated to challenging the unacceptable attitudes which underpin hate crime, raising awareness of the issue and building people's confidence to come forward and proactively seek justice. Community and voluntary groups are well placed to play a vital role in helping city agencies tackle these types of appalling crimes. We are delighted to have such a diverse Third Sector audience here with strong links to our communities and of course, to welcome the Lord Advocate. Working together we can tackle under-reporting and ensure that victims of Hate Crime Don't Stay Silent and eradicate this scourge."
Speaking before the event, Mr Mulholland said tackling Hate Crime in Scotland was one of his key priorities.
"The full force of the law will be brought to bear on anyone engaging in Hate Crime and I would urge victims of all forms of Hate Crime to come forward and not suffer in silence.
"Partnerships and workshops such as these are great ways to engage with communities and raise awareness and confidence in police and prosecutors to encourage the reporting of such offences and be assured, that where there is sufficient available evidence to prosecute, we will do so.
"We have made great strides in tackling Hate Crime and I am confident that in time, such offences will reduce further as Scotland becomes an even fairer and, more inclusive society to live in."
Chief Inspector Hilary Sloan of Police Scotland said Hate Crime can threaten entire communities.
She added: "Hate crimes are crimes like no other. The repercussions reach into the heart of our communities to generate fear, hostility and suspicion. Police Scotland is committed to challenging individuals who engage in these despicable acts and bring them swiftly to justice. Police Scotland, along with key partner agencies, has a responsibility to reduce and prevent these crimes.
"Third Party Reporting Centres, many of which are based within community and voluntary organisations, are vital."
Eilidh Brown of Victim Support Scotland added: "Hate Crime impacts on individuals at a very personal level. Targeting someone due to difference or perception of difference can leave those affected feeling isolated, upset, angry, insulted, with a reduced feeling of self-worth and reduced confidence to get on with everyday living. Victim Support Scotland along with other organisations can help those affected make reports and receive support to overcome the harm Hate Crime causes."
Glasgow Hate Crime Working Group is comprised of agencies including Glasgow City Council, Community Safety Glasgow, Police Scotland, NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde and Victim Support.
Last October, Glasgow held Scotland's first Hate Crime Awareness Week to highlight the issue and encourage victims to report incidents.
Central Station also became a Third Party Reporting Centre and staff were trained to support anyone who has experienced a Hate Crime and take statements which, if the victim wishes, can be forwarded to Police Scotland or the British Transport Police for investigation. Posters highlighting the issue were also posted on social media, on public transport and in the train station.
Glasgow now has more than 60 Third Party Reporting Centres including housing associations, Victim Support, Glasgow Disability Alliance and Glasgow Asylum and Refugee Service. These are safe places which people regularly visit and where staff have been trained by Police Scotland to support victims.
Learn more about the campaign to combat Hate Crime and Glasgow's Third Party Reporting Centres at http://www.hatecrimescotland.org
Hate Crimes can also be reported online via Police Scotland's website https://www.scotland.police.uk/secureforms/hate-crime/
Anyone in urgent assistance in an emergency should dial 999.