VICTIMS of racism and homophobia are being encouraged to come forward and report the crimes.

Cheshire Police is raising awareness of so-called hate crimes where the victim is targeted for their race, sexual orientation, faith or a disability.

Police stress that people subjected to such abuse should come forward because action will be taken.

Debbie Ardern, from the force’s communities unit, said: “In recent months we have established strong links in the gay communities of Chester, raising awareness of how to identify hate crime and what we can do to help.

“Many people within these groups have since reported hate incidents.

“A gay tenant of Chester Housing Association was suffering continued homophobic abuse from his neighbours.

“He heard about the help Cheshire Police offer and was put in touch with a specialist officer with whom he felt he could speak freely to.

“A subsequent meeting with the local authority led to the neighbours targeting him being found alternative housing.”

Last year, there were 111 reported hate crimes in the Western area of the county.

The public can report crimes anonymously at one of more than 60 third party reporting centres which also offer victim support.