A SERVICE has been launched in Barrhead to help hate crime victims report abuse.

The Third Party Reporting Centre allows people who may be wary of contacting the police in person to report hate crimes to trained professionals in confidence.

Based at the Kelburn Street Voluntary Action offices, it is the first service of its kind in the region and was set up by East Renfrewshire Disability Action chairman Michael McEwan in June.

“It’s a middle ground between the victim and the police,” Michael explained.

“Many people, for a variety of reasons, don’t want to get in touch with the police in person. You can go and get it off your chest and speak to somebody about it instead of bottling it up.

“The people in the centre have been trained up by a member of Police Scotland. People can walk in and they just have to say they’re there to report a hate crime.

“Compared to Glasgow, they’ve got 60 Third Person Reporting Centres – East Renfrewshire didn’t have any.”

Those involved with the service hope its confidential nature, and the friendly faces who offer assistance, will see more hate crime victims step forward.

Linda McCulloch, compliance and qualities manager at Voluntary Action, said: “People come in for all kinds of reasons so the anonymity of our building means people could be coming in for absolutely anything.

“There is no stigma attached which tends to put people at ease and our staff are very friendly.”

Hate crime victims, which includes anyone subjected to a crime motivated by racial, sexual, or other prejudice, can stop by the Voluntary Action offices any time between 9am and 5pm from Monday to Friday.

Appointments are not required as anyone who wishes to report a hate crime need only ask to speak with a member of the Third Party Reporting Centre team.

For more details, call the Voluntary Action base on 0141 876 9555 or email enquiries@erda.org.uk