Ms Cooke, who works at Cheshire Police, added that the “cars are there in the communities on normal policing patrol just to show the community that we want you to come forward… It is there to try and give confidence to our LGBT+ community, but also to other under-represented groups”.
She said that the “cost is quite minimal”, but the impact is “huge”.
The number of hate crimes reported to police have more than doubled in recent years, with allegations of transgender hate crime seeing the sharpest rise.
However, cash-strapped forces across the country have faced criticism for focusing on the allegations, a large number of which stem from social media comments.
Even where a crime has not been committed, police record the allegation as a “hate incident”, which could show up on a person’s criminal record checks.
‘From policing crime to policing thoughts’
Harry Miller, a former police officer and founder of campaign group Fair Cop, said: “We don’t see the Met with special cars for knife crime, even though the number of stabbings in London is appalling.
“The problem is that the second that you see a rainbow car, you know that it is a police force that has made its mind up about some very contentious issues. You no longer see a police car or a police officer who is there to support everyone, from all political persuasions, without fear or favour.
“They have literally tied their colours to the mast and painted their cars with their political leanings. They are painting rainbows on their cars when we have figures showing that only seven per cent of violent crime ends in a prosecution.
“They have moved from policing crime to policing thoughts and speech, because it is easier.”
Deputy Chief Constable Mark Hamilton, who leads on hate crime for the NPCC, said that responses to hate crime was a key priority after the inquiry into the murder of Stephen Lawrence, and they have a legal duty to protect victims under the Human Rights and Equalities Acts.
“Tackling hate crime is a priority for policing, however this does not detract from the service to victims of other crime types and anyone who has been a victim of crime should report it to the police,” he said.
“Early interventions, such as responding to hate crime, is also one of the most effective actions to reduce the escalation of violent crime and community tensions.”