County racist incidents increase

NUMBERS of racist incidents in Suffolk have increased almost three-fold in just eight years, new figures have revealed.But police today insisted the rise was the result of greater confidence in reporting race crime rather than a surge in discrimination.

NUMBERS of racist incidents in Suffolk have increased almost three-fold in just eight years, new figures have revealed.

But police today insisted the rise was the result of greater confidence in reporting race crime rather than a surge in discrimination.

In 1998/99, only 150 incidents were reported to Suffolk police, compared with 437 in 2006/07 - a huge growth of 291 per cent.

Peter Haystead, Suffolk police's community relations inspector, said it was wrong to suggest the county had become more racist.


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He said: “There are various initiatives the police have developed over the years to try to encourage people to report incidents.

“We have seen a general increase since 1999, but the British Crime Survey suggests that's down to people's confidence in reporting incidents rather than an increase in the number of offences.”

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The figures, which are monitored as a result of the Stephen Lawrence inquiry, relate to the perception that an incident has been motivated by prejudice or hate, owing to their race or faith.

Insp Haystead said reporting hate crime was easier than ever, following the launch of a website and a free-phone telephone service where victims can report incidents in their own languages.

He said: “All hate crime is a high priority.

“We would seek to get to people as quickly as possible and we work closely with partner agencies, like Ipswich and Suffolk Council for Racial Equality.

“If actions by perpetrators are not nipped in the bud they can escalate, so it's important people contact us.”

Complaints from Polish and Portuguese nationals has increased due to recent the influx of migrant workers in Suffolk, Insp Haystead said.

To report a hate crime, call free-phone 0800 1381643, or 999 in an emergency, or visit www.suffolk.police.uk

Are people in Suffolk more racist? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

Racial incidents in Suffolk:

98/99 - 150

99/00 - 235

00/01 - 291

01/02 - 375

02/03 - 345

03/04 - 409

04/05 - 417

05/06 - 415

06/07 - 437

Source: Hansard

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