A HALESOWEN football club is joining the effort to stamp out hate crime.

Halesowen Town is the first football club to become a third-party reporting centre in the borough, which enable victims to report incidents of hate crime without having to go directly to the police.

It means staff at the club have been trained to help victims report the crime via a website which is then passed onto the local police force.

This is an initiative led by West Midlands Police with the support of safe and sound, Dudley’s community safety partnership.

There are 30 now reporting centres across the Dudley borough.

Councillor Laura Taylor, cabinet member responsible for community safety, said: "We stand firm, hate crime will not be tolerated anywhere in this borough whether on a football pitch, in the park or between neighbours.

"We’re really pleased to have Halesowen Town Football Club on board as part of this initiative to help victims feel comfortable in coming forward and reporting incidents with people or an organisation they trust.

"Nationally, the police estimate more than half of hate crimes go unreported, but we don’t want that to be a statistic in Dudley."

Keith McKenna, Director of Football at Halesowen Town Football Club, said: "Halesowen Town Football Club stands united with the police and local authority against hate crime.

"We are proud to be part of this initiative and would like to reassure anyone who has suffered or witnessed a hate crime that we are here to help them, our door is always open."

Kim Madill, chief superintendent for Dudley Police, said: "We know it is not always easy for victims of this type of crime to approach police or other public services directly to report so it is great that the club has shown their commitment to tackling hate crime with us by joining our network.

"Hate crime will not be tolerated in our communities and I would encourage anyone who suffers this form of abuse to come forward and report it so the partnership can intervene to support them and take action against the perpetrators."

Anybody can report a hate crime or incident whether they are a victim, witness or a third party.

For more information including a list of all of our third party reporting centres visit https://www.dudleysafeandsound.org/hatecrime