Dr Alan Billings, South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner was a guest speaker at a conference marking the first year of Barnsley’s Hate and Harassment Strategy held in Barnsley Town Hall.

Dr Billings said: “When I was a child I was bullied.  My mother taught me to say ‘sticks and stones may break my bones, but calling never hurts me.’  But this wasn’t true.  Sticks and stones may cause physical hurt but the psychological and emotional damage caused by name calling can be as harmful.  We need to drive down all incidents of discrimination as prejudice if we are to have decent communities in which we live.”

He congratulated the Barnsley initiative which brought together many agencies to fight prejudice and discrimination in the town.

Dr Billings continued: “South Yorkshire Police take both hate crime and hate incidents very seriously.  While recorded hate crimes have gone up, this may be a sign that people are having increasing confidence to report them, rather than more crimes being committed.”

Hate crimes in South Yorkshire between September 2014 and August 2015 were 580, an increase of 15%, and in Barnsley 115, an increase of 20%.