Two Watford players have signed up to a campaign to help tackle hate crime.

Hornets midfielder Tom Cleverley and defender Will Troost-Ekong appeared in a new video by Hertfordshire Constabulary yesterday (October 15) asking schoolchildren to report hate crime – not ignore it.

The video has been published as part of the Herts against Hate campaign, which marks this week’s Hate Crime Awareness Week.

Coronavirus has stopped five hate crime officers meeting children and young people to explain what hate crime is and how to report it this week – and police say they had to get “creative” this year to spread the message.

“We have had to get creative this year to spread our message – that hate crime is unacceptable and will not be tolerated in Hertfordshire,” said Hertfordshire Constabulary’s hate crime lead, Detective Chief Inspector Pete Frost.

“We’ve teamed up with some top players from Watford FC, an expert by experience from the county council, our police cadets and local schools to make a video that we hope secondary school pupils will remember if they witness or suffer hate crime.

“We want everyone to know that hate crime is unacceptable, will not be tolerated in Hertfordshire and you should report it, not ignore it.”

Dave Messenger, supporter liaison and disability access officer at Watford, said: “Watford FC is proud to support Hate Crime Awareness week.

“Actions speak louder than words and the issue of discrimination in football is something that should and will remain in sharp focus. Having launched our ‘We’ campaign in 2019, working with the hate crime unit at Herts police to encourage inclusivity and tackle social media discrimination directly, everyone at the club remains totally committed to challenging discrimination wherever it appears.”

Police statistics show 837 people reported hate crimes to police in Hertfordshire between April 1 and September 22, compared to 804 in the same period last year.

Hate crime officer PC Andrea Haughton said: “Sadly I do feel that some have used the coronavirus pandemic as an excuse to bully and intimidate people with unacceptable racist taunts causing them a great deal of anxiety and distress.

“The impact of a hate crime can be devastating. It can cause people to lose their confidence and be fearful about coming and going from their home, being out and about in public places or just going about their daily lives.

“We take hate crime seriously and always investigate incidents. If there is no prosecution, we contact victims to explain the circumstances, offer support and signpost them to other agencies and support networks.”