Hate crime rises in Suffolk and Essex as national figures hit record high
- Credit: PA
The number of hate crimes recorded by police in Suffolk and Essex increased in 2020/21 as national figures hit a record high, latest statistics have revealed.
The Home Office data, released on Tuesday, showed there were a total of 962 hate crime offences in Suffolk in the year ending March 2021 - compared with 866 in 2019/20 - an increase of 11%.
While the number of racially motivated offences increased by 13% from 574 in 2019/20 to 653 in 2020/21,
Hate crimes related to sexual orientation also increased from 151 incidents in 2019/20 to 189 to March this year.
In Essex, the total number of hate crime incidents increased by 13% (from 3,413 to 3,845) in the year ending March 2021.
Essex also saw a big rise in racially motivated incidents, from 2,244 in 2019/20 to 2,675 - an increase of 19%.
The figures also showed an increase in disability hate crime in Essex - from 478 incidents in 2019/20 to 521 in the year to March 2021.
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Nationally, the number of hate crimes recorded by police in England and Wales hit its highest level on record - with a 12% rise in racially motivated incidents.
There were 124,091 hate crimes recorded in the year to March 2021, comprising of 92,052 race hate crimes, 6,377 religious hate crimes, 18,596 sexual-orientation hate crimes, 9,943 disability hate crimes and 2,799 transgender hate crimes.
Numbers have risen each year since records began in 2011-12, the figures showed.
The Home Office said the rises have been driven by improvements in recording, growing awareness and a better identification of what constitutes a hate crime.
However, there have been spikes in hate crime following certain events such as the EU Referendum and the terrorist attacks in 2017.
This week is national hate crime awareness week, and Inspector Vicky McParland, from Suffolk police, urged victims and witnesses to continue to report incidents.
"Attacks on our diverse Suffolk community, sadly, continue to be an issue," she said.
"These attacks maybe verbal, physical or online and the victim can suffer physical injuries, mental and/or enduring emotional trauma, and ultimately leave many feeling unsafe in their homes or going about their daily business.
"Each hate crime that is not reported is a missed opportunity to support the victim.
"Only by increasing reporting can we gain a full understanding of the extent of hate crime and so I take this opportunity that I urge victims and witnesses to continue to come forward to report incidents to the police or to any third party reporting agencies across the county.”
Tim Passmore, Suffolk's police and crime commissioner, said: "Everyone has a right to live safely in Suffolk without the fear of prejudice or discrimination.
"It goes without saying that we should treat each other in a respectful way, but if that’s not the case, we need to support victims of discrimination and ensure they have the confidence to report."
Tom Edwards, Victim Support’s deputy service director, said: "It’s incredibly concerning that there has been significant increases in hate crime incidences across Suffolk.
"Despite the fact that hate crime is under reported, we are still seeing high numbers of victims seeking support, particularly following racial hate crime, and know too well the devastating impact it can have.
"Victims not only live with pain and suffering from facing horrendous abuse, but it damages their sense of safety, wellbeing and self-worth which takes years to re-build.
"We want victims to know that hate crime is a serious offence and there is support available to anyone who needs it. No one should ever fear being abused or discriminated against for who they are.”
Superintendent Richard Melton, from Essex Police, said hate crime will not be tolerated in the county.
He said: “We want people to come forward and let us deal with the people that are perpetrating crimes against them. It’s wrong and needs to be challenged.
"That information will allow us to identify themes and take targeted action.
“We recognise the problems that hate crime causes and how it can escalate. What starts as low-level anti-social behaviour can grow into community tensions.
"Tensions then normalise hatred, the hatred then grows, and we have offences committed by those motivated by hate.
“We’re dealing with problems at a community level and learning every day about how to deal more effectively with hate crime, and we’re becoming more effective at working with the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to get better outcomes for the victims.”