HATE crime in our communities was targeted in a national campaign last week.

Led by the local police division, it delivered a hard-hitting message that the victimisation of groups and individuals, for whatever reason, will not be tolerated.

There remains much work to be done, though, after it emerged that it was one of the difficulties faced by disabled people on a daily basis.

Alastair Pringle, Head of Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) Scotland, says that a concentrated effort must be made to tackle hate crime as well as other issues.

The offence is defined as being motivated by malice or ill will towards an individual or particular social group, on the basis of their actual or presumed sexual orientation, transgender identity, disability, race/ethnicity or religion/beliefs.

Speaking at Ayrshire Police Division’s base at Kilmarnock, Superintendent Faroque Hussain said: “We need to be clear hate crime is not normal and won’t be tolerated in our communities.

“Officers across East Ayrshire will be working to raise awareness on hate crime, the support available to victims and the various methods available to report hate crime.

“As a community we must come together, challenge negative behaviour and report incidents of hate crime.

“Hate crime is a key priority for Police Scotland. The deep personal impact it can have on victims, their family, friends and on entire communities cannot be underestimated.”

A scathing report published this week, however, says there is much work to be done regarding disability related hate crime which increased by 20 per cent in Scotland.

Research also claims that disabled people are less likely to feel safe walking alone in their local neighbourhoods.

Mr Pringle said: “Tuesday’s report places the disadvantages faced by Scottish disabled people into sharp focus.

“It raises important issues about the extent to which disabled people are seen and treated as equal citizens.

“The Scottish Government’s disability action plan, and their commitment to putting dignity and respect at the heart of their new social security powers, are very welcome and I hope they will lead to improvements in the outcomes we are reporting.”

Several projects in East Ayrshire have tackled the issue of hate crime head on, including a drama performance by The Things Tae Dae group.

It was attended by councillors and representatives of the police and Ayrshire College as well as the Vibrant Communities team.

In Cumnock and Auchinleck, a group of East Ayrshire Young Carers also won a national award for an anti-sectarian magazine — produced with meagre resources compared to other organisations, such as universities, but written based on personal experiences.

Hate crime can be reported at any police station or via 101.

There are also more than 400 third party reporting sites across Scotland, which offer support — visit Police Scotland website.