Northumbria Police is taking to the pitch to tackle Hate Crime in sport.
The Force is supporting the Hadrian Cup Rugby Tens tournament on Saturday, February 24, which is being hosted and organised by the Newcastle Ravens; a men’s rugby union team who compete in national and local level rugby.
The tournament is being used to promote Northumbria Police's Hate Crime campaign 'Being you is not a crime'.
All of the teams taking part will be wearing Stonewall rainbow laces in support of the Force's campaign and to show that Hate Crime has no place either on or off the field.
The Stonewall rainbow lace initiative started to take momentum following research undertaken suggesting that homophobia, biphobia and transphobia remains a problem at all levels of sport. The rainbow laces are for everyone to wear in a sign of solidarity and to send a united message that LGBT people are welcome in sport and across wider society.
Northumbria Police will be lending their support on the day, with representatives from the LGBT+ Association, dedicated LGBT Liaison and Community Engagement Officers (trained in hate crime and issues affecting the community).
Leader of Newcastle City Council, Councillor Nick Forbes, is also attending to show support and solidarity and to present the winners’ cup.
Chief Inspector Steve Hails, from Northumbria Police, said: "We are delighted to be involved with this fantastic event again this year. Equality and inclusivity are key components of modern day policing and it's so important that we show our support for projects like this.
"The tournament is all about inclusivity and because the teams taking part are inclusive, people can be free to be themselves as individuals and express themselves as they wish. Sport doesn't discriminate and this ties in perfectly in with our hate crime campaign and the work we are doing across the whole force.
"Our campaign 'Being you is not a crime, targeting you is' was launched in 2013 with aim of raising awareness around what hate crime is, the work that police and partners do to tackle it and the support that is out there for people who have experienced hate crime. It's been really well received by the public and we have had a lot of fantastic support for it.
"There is no place for hate crime on the rugby pitch, on any pitch, or anywhere and we are committed to tackling it. Our officers, staff and cadets are really looking forward to the day and would urge as many people as possible to come along and get involved."
James McKane, Chair of The Newcastle Ravens, said: “It is great to be working with Northumbria Police again on this year's Hadrian cup. Although the tournament is an inclusive event, the Club is very much LGBT inclusive. We all feel passionate about supporting this year's campaigns: Being you is not a crime and No homophobia in sport."
A crime is considered to be a hate crime if someone has been targeted because of who they are - these include: race, faith, religion, disability, gender identity, age and sexual orientation.
Councillor Nick Forbes, leader of Newcastle City Council, said: “I am proud to support this fantastic event. Tyneside is a place of justice, fairness and deeply held values where prejudice and discrimination will not be tolerated.
“This event showcases that here we are proud to stand together and say no to any form of hate crime.”
Anyone can report a hate crime – victims, families and friends, carers or someone unrelated to a victim who has been witness.
The Hadrian Cup Rugby Tens tournament takes place at Percy Park Rugby Football Club, Preston Avenue, North Shields, Tyne and Wear NE30 2BE on Saturday February, 24, between 11am and 3pm.
For more information visit: www.HadrianCup.co.uk