VICTIMS of hate crime in Sandwell who do not want to report offences to the police do not need to suffer in silence.

The borough has a growing network of third party reporting centres where crimes motivated by the offender's hatred of people because of their gender, race, religion, disability or sexual orientation can be reported  - anonymously if required - and passed on to police officers.

Sergeant Gavin Peever said: "Hate crime is a serious issue and tackling it is a priority. I encourage victims not to suffer in silence and to speak out.

"There is a common misconception amongst victims of 'lower level abuse' 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. Also, reporting these 'minor' incidents can in some instances help us and partner agencies to identify much larger community tensions.

"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.

"There are currently 13 third party reporting centres in Sandwell, staff and volunteers at these centres have received training as part of the accreditation process.

They are at various locations including Rights and Equality, Sandwell, Birmingham Street, Oldbury, and through Sandwll Council's housing anti-social behaviour team.

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

Anyone interested in becoming a third party reporting centre should contact Sgt Peever by calling 101.