ON an almost daily basis, Luca Matthews and James Brett become the victims of crime because of who they are.

During their morning walk to college, they are regularly abused by passers by for being gay.

Despite this, the 22-year-olds feel lucky that the countless hate crimes they have suffered have never resulted in physical violence.

James, from Rixton, said: “Me and Luca will usually meet up at the bus station and walk up to college.

“Nine times out of 10, there will be someone shouting derogatory language out of a car driving past us or people looking us up and down.

“There are times when you’ll be walking alone on the street and a group of people will be looking at you, and you just know that you have to speed up just in case something happens.

“It’s always there either at the back of your mind, that you might need to cross the road or turn around and walk back the other way – it’s tiring having to constantly look over your shoulder.”

Luca, from Appleton, added: “Luckily, me and James have never been in a situation where we’ve suffered physical violence – it’s always been words, or being followed.

“It is a shame to have to stand here and say that we’re lucky that that it’s never got worse than that, but we are lucky.”

But instead of remaining silent, the Warrington and Vale Royal College students decided to take action.

As part of their media production course, they have created a short film about the effects of hate crimes on the LGBTQ+ community – as well as on disabled people and those targeted because of their race or religion.

This documentary will now be used as part of hate crime workshops run by restorative justice charity Remedi, in partnership with the Cheshire police and crime commissioner’s office.

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“We have been victims of hate crime, and we are doing this to fight back against it in the right way,” Luca said.

“The film is about showing that we do have power – we’re not completely defenceless, and we can step forward.

“If one person sees this film and it changes their perspective, then we have done a good job.”

James added: “We’re trying to combat the lack of education.

“It’s all about not accepting it as something that’s going to happen, because there is something we can do about it.

“What we’ve done isn’t just for victims of hate crime, it’s also for the perpetrators to step back and realise that they shouldn’t say these things.”

Police and crime commissioner David Keane has linked a spike in incidences of hate crime in Warrington with the UK's vote to leave the European Union.

Mr Keane said: “In Warrington, hate crime is an increasing issue.

“There has been an increase over the past five years right across the board – whether it is hate crime against disabled people, certain religions or races or people of different sexual orientations or genders.

“That’s a big concern for the town.

“A hate crime could be a physical assault, a verbal assault that puts someone in threat of danger or actions such as graffiti, criminal damage or posting offensive items through people’s letterboxes.

“I think there has been a lack of tolerance since Brexit, and people feel freer on social media – as well as in the street – to express their lack of tolerance.

“Those cultures are set by people in public offices and in the public eye, who are spreading messages pointing at certain groups for some problems in society – breeding that lack of tolerance.

“That sets an agenda which allows other people’s intolerances to come out and get bigger and stronger.

“We’ve got to challenge that, we’ve got to call it out and push back – that is everyone’s duty."

Mr Keane has also praised 'inspirational' college students Luca Matthews and James Brett for their efforts in tackling hate crime.

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He added: "James and Luca are not willing to become a victim – they have reported it, they have took it on and they have gone a stage further to educate people.

"This gives people the confidence to report it, and they've made one of the most inspirational short films I've seen in a long time to get that message out there and put a stop to hate crime.

"I'm really proud of the guys, it's a huge achievement.

"We're blessed to have these people who are brave enough to do it."