Special meetings examining how police deal with race-hate crimes are being opened up to the community in a bid to improve transparency.

The Bradford South Hate Crime Scrutiny Panel, which meets monthly at police headquarters in the Tyrls, was held in the heart of the community for the first time yesterday at Grange School.

The panel focused on six race-hate incidents from the past month, scrutinising how police had investigated them, along with stop and search methods. Two pupils at the school in Haycliffe Lane were shown how the process worked.

Inspector Mark Leighton, of Bradford South police community safety team, said future meetings would be held at different venues in a drive to raise awareness of hate crimes, engage people in the process and encourage victims to report them to the police.

Insp Leighton said: "This is helpful in assisting and tackling race hate crimes as it flags up important issues. For example stop and search is about reducing crime but there is a perception that the powers are being used disproportionately.

"Hate crime can be frightening and by reporting it we may be able to prevent these crimes from happening to someone else."

The panel is made up of representatives of Bradford Council, the Crown Prosecu-tion Service, Bradford Community Housing Trust, the Trident regeneration scheme, schools, Bradford University, Bradford Hate Crime Alliance and the Council's youth services.

Nazmin Din, community development manager at Grange School and a scrutiny panel member, invited the panel to meet at the school.

She said: "We wanted to take the panel into the community to raise awareness. Before the community did not associate themselves with it but now they can see what's happening. The idea is to have more involvement and we need to promote the positive image of the police."

Insp Leighton said: "Youth is very important and it's a large part of the population in Bradford. They are the future and it's crucial that we involve them."

The scrutiny panel was set up in September 2004, taking on board recommendations of the McPherson report into the death of black teenager Stephen Lawrence, killed in an attack in London in 1993.

Insp Leighton said hate crime was "an offence committed against a person or property which is motivated by the offenders' hatred of people because they are seen as being different. Hate crime can be on the grounds of race, religion or homophobia and from April 1 it will include faith and disability."