“Our differences should be celebrated” – Hate Crime Officer Isla Dixon
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“I’ve always wanted to ensure people are treated the same no matter who they are – that’s always been in me right from when I was a little girl”.
For Isla Dixon, working as Leicestershire Police’s Hate Crime officer is not just a job, it’s an opportunity to make a difference and share her passion with others.
And this is exactly what she has set out to do since coming into the role in April last year by continually working to raise awareness of hate crime, to encourage reporting of incidents and to show what can be achieved by working together.
Hate Crime Officer Isla Dixon
“For me it is all about educating our community and providing them with the confidence to come forward and report” she said. “Nobody should be treated any differently just because of who they are.
“A large part of my job is going into schools, colleges and community groups and talking with people about what hate crime actually is, the true effects it can have and how victims of hate crime can report incidents and seek support. As part of this, I also work with our partners and support agencies.
“Delivering awareness sessions is hugely rewarding particularly when I get feedback from people who tell me that they never really understood what hate crime was, what it involves or how it affects people. Raising that awareness and showing that Leicestershire Police are here for people is the main message that I try to get across.
"When you see that trust being built, and I have communities and groups inviting us to work with them in relation to hate crime awareness to address concerns and to promote positive behaviour, that is a huge success for me as well as for the force.”
Isla works to raise awareness of hate crime
For Isla herself, born and educated in Zimbabwe before moving to the UK at the age of 20, she has always worked in encouraging diversity and equality. Gaining an external qualification as a Diversity Awareness Coach in 1994, she joined the force back in 2014 working in a number of roles but when the role of Hate Crime Officer came up in 2019, Isla knew it was the job for her.
Since then, in addition to her success working with local communities, Isla has also helped to re-launch and raise awareness of the Stamp It Out campaign to encourage people to ‘Say No to Hate’.
The campaign, which is delivered with partners, works to raise awareness about what hate crime is – when someone commits a crime against you because of your perceived or actual disability, gender identity, race, sexual orientation, religion or any other perceived difference. The campaign also provides advice on where and how people can report offences and the different support available.
But it is not just the public and local communities that Isla works with. Her job also involves supporting the Chief Officer team in relation to hate crime and working with officers and staff to ensure everyone is fully up to date in relation to legislation, what is affecting our communities and how to identify, record and investigate these offences sensitively and appropriately. This includes providing training to all new frontline officers and staff as well as a mandatory refresher. Isla is also the hate crime spokesperson for the force working closely with the force communications team to respond to enquiries or requests for information.
“If we are out encouraging people to report hate crime and to spot the signs of offences, then it goes without saying that we need to ensure that we, in force, are all fully up to date with the legislation and with the correct procedures on how to respond to and investigate hate crime offences and supporting victims,” she said.
And now 18 months into the job, Isla’s ambitions continue to develop as she carries out her role.
“Going forward, for me and the force it’s about ensuring that people in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland are listened to and that we all work together to make the changes that we need to make.
“It’s about us realising that our differences are our strength in our communities and that this is something for us to celebrate. No-one should be treated differently because of who they are and those that are targeted should have the support to report it and stop what is happening – to stamp it out.
“Ultimately it is about making Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland a place where hate crime no longer exists.”
For more information on hate crime offences and how to report them, visit https://stamp-it-out.co.uk You can also follow Isla on Twitter @LPStaySafe
National Hate Crime Awareness Week 2020 takes place from 10-17 October.