A housing association has been recognised as a "third party reporting centre" for hate crime.

Members of staff at the Aldwyck Housing Group have been trained by the County Community Safety Unit (CCSU) to either assist people in filling out reporting forms, or to encourage them to report hate crimes themselves.

This means people who have been victims of hate crimes but may be reluctant to speak to police can report them at a safe, neutral location within the community without having to speak directly to an officer.

Georgina Parkinson, Head of Housing at Aldwyck Housing Group, said: "We are proud to be the first local housing provider to work in partnership with the police to deliver this service to the communities we serve.

"Our staff are now fully trained to manage reports of hate crime and being involved has raised the awareness of this issue across the entire organisation."

Police and Crime Commissioner David Lloyd, said: "I am very pleased that the Constabulary and CCSU are working with an organisation such as Aldwyck Housing Group to help us to reach victims of hate crime even further and, if victims would rather not speak to police, this arrangement appears to provide an excellent alternative avenue to encourage victims of hate crime to come forward."

Aldwyck has more than 6,000 homes in the county and victims can call, email or report the hate crime directly to a member of their staff.

The housing group was recently criticised in a Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service report into the fire in Storey Court, the Aldwyck-run sheltered accommodation in Bushey, in March 2012.

An investigation found emergency hose reels were condemned, and alarms and emergency lighting were not tested in line with safety standards.

Findings also revealed staff did not know how many people were in the building, there was no evidence of an evacuation drill and a smoke alarm in one flat was covered.