HATE crime victims are being encouraged not to suffer in silence and report abuse at one of more than 20 reporting centres across the town.

Staff at community centres in Bolton have been working with police as part of Hate Crime Awareness Week which starts on Monday.

Last year Bolton received 360 reports of hate crime — 12 per cent of the 3,000 incidents reported in Greater Manchester.

But police believe many are not brought to the attention of officers.

Det Insp Charlotte Cadden, who is leading the awareness campaign in Bolton, said: “The police take hate crime so seriously because it can be impact where people live.

“They may fear for their own personal safety and they might not feel confident in going out.

“We have low levels of disability crime reported. I know people are putting up with a lot or don’t know that it is a crime.“ She said the majority of hate crimes in Bolton are racial or religious incidents.

She said less incidents where people with mental health problems or disabilities are being reported.

Police are being trained to identify whether reports are hate crimes. Hate crime is motivated by a prejudice or hatred of someone.

This can include ethnicity, nationality, religion, gender, sexuality, disability or lifestyle.

As part of the awareness drive people are being reminded that they do not have to report hate crime directly to police but can report it at one of the centres across the borough.

Staff at the centres have been trained to deal with victims and will only contact police if the victim agrees.

Shaheen Sameja, Halliwell and Crompton neigh-bourhood manager at Halliwell UCAN, said: “Each UCAN has a team who are there to assist. Hate crime is not acceptable and there are people in Bolton who want to help.

“If someone wants to report hate crime we will take the person’s details and ask them about the next step they would like to take.”

Physical attacks, including offensive graffiti, threats of attack and verbal abuse are all hate crimes.

Incidents can also be reported by calling police on 101, via report-it.org.uk or Crimestopers anonymously on 0800 555111 or visit bolton.gov.uk/website/ Pages/Hatecrime