Reports of race-based hate crime have increased by a quarter across Sussex since the EU referendum last month, according to police figures.
Bernie O’Reilly, deputy chief constable at Sussex Police, acknowledged that hate crime was generally under-reported and while they were not happy with the increase he urged victims to come forward and report incidents.
Between the EU referendum result and last Tuesday (July 19) the number of race-based hate crimes has increased in Sussex by around 25 per cent compared to the figures from the same period in 2015.
Last year Sussex Police received 197 reports of hate crime, of which 117 were race based, compared to 236 and 185 respectively this year in the same period of time.
The figures were revealed during Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner’s performance and accountability meeting last Friday (July 22).
Chief Constable Giles York said: “It’s a very low number we are talking about. It’s a high percentage but it’s a very low number, but very unpleasant for the individuals because there’s nothing they can do about it.”
He explained that the majority of hate crimes were not physical attacks, and there was no pattern and many of the incidents were ‘fleeting’.
One example he had been given was a person going into a shop and paying for a 5p carrier bag, which split just as they left the shop.
The person walked back into the shop and said ‘this is an example of daft European laws and foreigners’.
Mrs Bourne noted that the national increase was around 42 per cent and many hate crimes were ‘hostility or prejudice’.
Mr O’Reilly explained that local policing teams were working with communities across Sussex on hate crime, with independent advisory groups being set up to develop good relationships and reinforcing the importance of reporting incidents.
Sussex Police’s website describes hate crime as one where a ‘perpetrator’s hostility or prejudice against an identifiable group of people is a factor in determining who is victimised’.
Hate crimes can take several forms including physical attack, threat of attack, or verbal abuse or insults and abusive gestures.
Before the meeting Mrs Bourne said: “For those who do not want to report a hate crime to the police for whatever reason they can now send a report straight to victim support services through the new and improved Self Evident crime reporting app.
“The modified app empowers victims by allowing them to choose the kind of support they want to receive. Ultimately, the app puts the victim in the driving seat.”
“Another benefit of the app is its ability to record and store video, audio and photo evidence. This is particularly good for witnesses of hate crime and subsequently will help individuals feel confident to report it and show that it won’t be tolerated.
“As PCC I am determined to improve this for everyone in Sussex and that is why I fully support any initiative that tackles hate crime, which is a key priority in my Police & Crime Plan.”
Earlier this week new Home Secretary Amber Rudd launched a hate crime action plan, which includes giving young people and teachers tools to tackle prejudice and hatred, work to see how police forces handle hate crime, and funding for places of worship to increase security measures.
Ms Rudd said: “Those who practise hatred send out a message that it’s okay to abuse and attack others because of their nationality, ethnicity or religious background. That it’s okay to disregard our shared values and promote the intolerance that causes enormous harm to communities and individuals.
“Well, I have a very clear message for them. We will not stand for it. Hatred has no place whatsoever in a 21st-century Great Britain that works for everyone.”
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