HATE crime is being tackled in north Essex using Government funding to overcome terrorism.

Colchester and Tendring crime and disorder partnerships received funding under the Government’s Prevent programme, which aims to develop community and faith relations to try to prevent terrorism.

They were among the first regions in the UK to receive the funding, after successfully showing good inter-agency working relationships.

The money came through last year, and has been used to appoint a leader for the Prevent programme in north Essex, Chris Van Holby, who has been in post for about six weeks.

It has also been used to set up a multi-faith group, to allow different religions and cultures to meet every six weeks to air any problems and learn to overcome their differences.

Peter Carrington, community safety manager for the Safer Colchester Partnership – formerly the Colchester Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnership, said: “The multi-faith group is doing really well.

“Members are learning about each other’s faith and cultures and how we can work together.

“We are really pleased with that progress and the commitment of every faith group without exception. Everybody wants to work together to talk, to learn and for their members to learn.”

Mr Carrington said the purpose of the group was vitally important to keeping residents in the area safe.

“The first thing is to ensure there is an open dialogue going on between different faiths and cultures which builds on community engagement,” he explained. “If you talk more, you can share more.

“We are doing some work with the university to do with students who come from abroad, to help them feel integrated into our communities and not to feel isolated and alone.

“We don’t want them to feel that no one is listening to them, and that people are doing something about respecting their faith and their culture.

“It is also about looking to see if there should be any community tensions with right wing groups that we can identify.

“We try to prevent any tensions in the communities brought about by misunderstanding of faiths or cultures, or people who deliberately set out to undermine a particular faith group.

“We want to make sure if there is any hate crime towards a culture group, faith group or religious group, that we hear about it quickly and do everything we can to make sure it’s never repeated.

“Although in north Essex race hate crime isn’t a particular problem, we are a major garrison town and a university as well, so we have to be consistently aware people don’t undermine the great relationship we have across our community.”

Members of the multi-faith group are due to visit various places of worship, as well as sampling food and learning more about the different values of each religious or cultural group.

Eventually it will be chaired by a member of the group, but it is currently being overseen by members of the two partnerships.