15/1/2010- Police have vowed to clamp down on hate crimes across Teesside after claims two people were targeted through social networking sites. The Safer Middlesbrough Partnership and partner agencies operate a monthly Hate Crime Case Group to tackle harassment. A hate crime is any criminal offence motivated by hostility or prejudice based on the victom's disability, race, religion or belief, sexual orientatio or transgender. Recently the group dealt with two reported cases of internet- based hate crime after the victims were targeted through social networking sites because of their race or religious backgrounds. Sergeant Ian Sharp, from Cleveland Police's community safety unit, said: "We will not tolerate any form of hate crime in Middlesbrough, and will use all the resources at our disposal to ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice. "They will be firmly dealt with by the police and other criminal justice agencies." The group includes the Safer Middlesbrough Partnership, Cleveland Police, Crown Prosecution Service, North of England Refugee Service, Erimus Housing, Middlesbrough Voluntary Development Agency, Anti-Social Behaviour Team, the BME (Black and Minority Ethnic) Network, Victim Support, Tees Valley Housing, Unite and Middlesbrough Council. Matt Fowler, Safer Middlesbrough Partnership co-ordination and development support officer, said: "While the internet and online world can be a means of bringing people together and providing new forums for social contact, individuals can also be at risk from unwanted contact, inappropriate behaviour and potentially harmful content. "We also have evidence of the internet being exploited by those who want to spread messages of hate. "We would urge all users of the social networking sites, such as Facebook, to exercise caution and control when adding individuals to their contacts who request friendship, if they are previously not known to them."

Anyone who experiences hate crime from any source is urgedto report it to Cleveland Police on 01642-326326.

A comprehensive list of all reporting venues can be found online and incidents reported at

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