Volume 95, Issue 50

Thursday, November 29, 2001
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Study targets AIDS infection

Geeks get organized

Afghan refugee horror

Less housing available in London

Profs: complication clouds cloning

Study: 7.3 per cent drink and drive

New hate crime office to open in London

News Briefs

New hate crime office to open in London

By Erin Conway-Smith
Gazette Staff

A proposed office to handle hate crimes in London will have the support of a council committee when the initiative is brought to city council next Monday.

At a meeting of the Community and Protective Services Committee Monday, the proposal for a new office, which will be backed by $75,000 in city funding, received the go-ahead.

"We are pleased with the response of CAPS to show initiative and leadership," said Elaine Pensa, vice-chair of the city's Hate Crime and Bias Activity Steering Committee.

The office would deal with hate crime and bias activity in London and offer education, referrals and support, she said.

In order for the proposal to be official, it still has to pass city council resolution, Pensa said. "We look forward to good results on Monday night at council," she said.

"We give [the issue of hate crimes and bias activity] safety, credibility and security and from there, change happens," said city controller Joe Swan. He has served on the hate crime and bias committee for the past year.

Swan said he strongly believes the creation of an office to deal with hate crimes and bias in the London community would give the issues the importance they deserve.

"We're trying to give people a safe place to report their experiences – not every racial slur is going to have a police officer show up at your door," Swan said.

Last year, 43 incidents were reported as hate crimes, said Const. Paul Martin of the London Police Department This year, a total of 28 hate crimes have been reported.

While numbers are down, Martin said it is important to take into consideration many hate crimes are not reported.

"We're not going to come out and say [hate crimes are] on the downslide," he said. Hate crimes are always a concern for police, but not necessarily a growing concern, he added.

Debbie Lee, Safe City Project co-ordinator for the HALO community centre, called the recommendations a valid piece of pro-active education within our community.

"We think it's about time the city take a pro-active position on hate crimes. We need to acknowledge these events take place," she said.

"I think we are known as a community limited by its division and London should embrace its diversity."

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