Racially aggravated crime on the rise in East Anglia, new figures show

The number of racially or religiously motivated offences recorded in Suffolk, Essex and Norfolk rose between 2020 and 2021.

The number of racially or religiously motivated offences recorded in Suffolk, Essex and Norfolk rose between 2020 and 2021. - Credit: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Racially and religiously aggravated offences in East Anglia rose by nearly 10.5% between 2020 and 2021, new data has revealed.

The Home Office has released data on the number of racially or religiously aggravated assaults, as well as incidents of harassment, criminal damage and disorderly behaviour causing public fear, alarm or distress.

According to the Home Office, “these racially or religiously aggravated offences are by definition hate crimes”.

In Suffolk, the number of hate crimes per year effectively stayed the same in 2021 compared to 2020.

Suffolk Constabulary recorded 495 racially or religiously motivated offences in 2020, compared to 496 in 2021 – a rise of 0.2%.

Over the border in Essex recorded offences rose by 18% from 1,822 to 2,154.

While in Norfolk, they fell by 5% to 564.

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This means that in the three counties the total recorded offences went from 2,911 to 3,214.

Nationally, 39 of 44 police forces reported a rise in the number of offences. 34 of the forces reported a new high.

Suffolk's Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore

Suffolk's Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore - Credit: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Tim Passmore, Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner, said racially and religiously aggravated crimes were a "top priority" under the police and crime plan.

He said hate crimes were underreported, so it was difficult to know their true extent in Suffolk.

Mr Passmore added that tackling racially and religiously aggravated crimes required a "societal approach" from multiple agencies, as well as a "focus on education".

"It is about engaging so you understand everybody's point of view, and build up that element of trust in each other," he said.

"Clearly there's still more to do." 

An Essex Police spokesman said: "It is encouraging that people are increasingly confident to report incidents but believes many victims still don’t contact police.

"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."

Crimestoppers can be contacted anonymously on 0800 555111.