Barnstaple Town Council has joined the campaign for zero tolerance to hate crime.

In the run up to National Hate Crime Awareness Week (October 12-19), the council agreed a motion to condemn any form of racism, bigotry or intolerance.

It said such things had no place in the community and it would work to promote the message and reassure all people living in the area that they were valued members of the community.

The motion was brought by town councillor Syed Jusef, who is also a hate crime advisor for Devon and Cornwall Police, and was supported unanimously by the council.

The latest figures from the police show there was an 11 per cent increase in all hate crimes in North and West Devon in 2018-19, rising from 137 to 152.

Locally, hate crimes for religious reasons rose from two to 11, while crimes against disabled people went from 12 to 14.

There was a 77 per cent increase in crimes related to sexual orientation, from 13 to 23, however racial crimes did drop from 84 to 70, a reduction of 17 per cent.

Despite the modest increase, Mr Jusef told the Gazette hate crimes were still an issue locally and there was also concern that many are still going unreported.

He said: "We are one human race, we need to build up the love and love each other, regardless of race or religion or sexual orientation. We want to build better bonds between us and make for a better and safer community."

He said there was concern the actual number of crimes could be double what was reported.

Mr Jusef added: "When people are victims, they must report it. The police are really concerned that people are not reporting it enough, so whatever the incident, please do come forward."

Barnstaple mayor, Cllr Alan Rennles, said the council was only too pleased to support the campaign. He said: "There was no objection from anybody - it was a very clear attitude that this is something we must do.

"My utmost respect for Cllr Jusef for the way he put it across, it was superbly done and we will always support it."

You can report hate crime by dialling 101, or ONLINE or speak to your local policing team.