VICTIMS of hate crime can be targeted for many reasons including their race, religion or disability.

East Ayrshire’s top police officer is backing this week’s national hate crime awareness campaign which will send out a strong message.

Chief Inspector Gillian Docherty, East Ayrshire Area Commander, said:

“Officers in East Ayrshire Police Division are committed to keeping people safe.

“People living in our communities can at times be subjected to abuse solely because of their race, religion, transgender identity, sexual orientation or disability, which is completely unacceptable.

“If you have been a victim of this type of Tackling hate crime crime, we want to hear from you.

"Local officers dedicate their time to ensure that vulnerable members of our communities live free from the fear of crime.

"Locality policing teams work closely with support groups and agencies to provide advice and supporting the community.”

Hate crime is defined as any criminal offence committed against an individual or property that is motivated by a person’s hatred of someone because of his or her actual or perceived race, religion, transgender identity, sexual orientation or disability.

As well as being against the law, it is denies victims, often in vulnerable situations, the right to live safely and without fear.

"In some cases victims do not feel comfortable reporting the matter directly to the police and may be more comfortable reporting it to someone they are familiar with.