A RISE in incidents of hate crime in Oxford has sparked a campaign to report more offences.

Tom Hayes, Oxford City Council's lead for community safety plans to build a relationship with Tell MAMA, a reporting service for people who experience anti-Muslim hatred.

Mr Hayes met with the founder Fiyaz Mughal and deputy director Iman Atta of the organisation in a big to find way to tackle hate crime in the city.

The campaign comes as calls were made to toughen punishments for hate crimes after figures revealed reports of racist and homophobic incidents increased in Oxford by more than 40 per cent in a year.

Police received an average of 23 racist or homophobic reports each month between April 2016 and 2017, compared to 16 reports per month in the previous year.

Mr Hayes told the Oxford Mail the authorities could not 'effectively tackle' the problem, without people who see or experience offences reported it.

He added the meeting with Tell MAMA focused pm 'deepening ties' with the city council and the confidential reporting service.

He said: "Hate crime of any kind has absolutely no place in Oxford.

"Hate crime cuts to the bone and strikes at who you are as a person. When somebody targets you for who you are, a core part of your identity is attacked, which means that you need to be sure you will be listened to and action will be taken."

Last month senior councillors made a motion urging Theresa May to request a review of hate crime legalisation as some branded the current sentences for perpetrators, which is a maximum of six months for some offences, as 'unacceptable' and not enough of a deterrent.

Mr Hayes said hate crime had increased since the EU referendum and in the month since the London and Manchester terror attacks.

He added: "We have heard reports of Islamophobia and anti-Muslim hate in particular. This greatly concerns me and it’s important to end hate crime and Islamophobia.

"Our core objective must always be supporting victims of hate crime and encouraging them to report their experiences. Visibility has enormous impacts, it shows that we’re taking people’s concerns seriously and that’s why we’re so visibly making the case to the public to report hate crime.

"We plan to build up our relationship with Tell MAMA to support individuals who have faced hatred, racism, bullying, or discrimination because of their Muslim identity.

A crime is classified as a hate crime if it is motivated by hostility, prejudice or hatred towards someone's actual or perceived race, religion, gender, sexual orientation or disability.