VICTIMS of hate crime, who are scared to go to the police, can now report offences to the Halesowen-based Ahmadiyya Muslim Association.

Its Baitul Ghafoor Mosque, Long Lane, is one of a growing number of third party reporting centres across Dudley borough.

These independent centres provide the public with opportunities to report hate crimes motivated by gender, race, religion, disability or sexual orientation, anonymously if required, which is passed on to local officers.

Staff and volunteers at the centres have received training from police officers as part of the accreditation process.

PC Sean Roberts, crime and vulnerability officer, said: "There is a common misconception amongst victims of hate crime that the incident they have been involved in does not warrant police action.

“I cannot emphasise enough that the police do want to know and, in line with the victims' wishes, we will investigate thoroughly.

"We would prefer victims to come to us directly but experience tells us that for a variety of reasons, some do not want to speak with officers, preferring to report crimes anonymously or not at all.

"It is important that victims of hate crime get the support they need and that we ensure that offenders are brought to justice. If hate crimes are left unreported we can't tackle the issue and, if unchallenged can escalate from minor anti-social behaviour to more serious violent incidents."

Victims of hate crime should report offences to police on the 101 telephone number at a local third party reporting centre or via