Reports of racial incidents on the rise

WAR in Iraq has been blamed for rising racial tension in Suffolk.Reported racial incidents rose by 15 per cent in the first quarter of this year and it is feared the Middle East conflict could be the cause.

WAR in Iraq has been blamed for rising racial tension in Suffolk.

Reported racial incidents rose by 15 per cent in the first quarter of this year and it is feared the Middle East conflict could be the cause.

Sam Budu, head of Ipswich Council for Racial Equality, said: "I know that Iraq is still an issue, but it is not as tense as it was at the time when the figures were going up.

"Iraq was being hotly debated at that time in this country and in others and it may have had an affect."


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But Mr Budu said the picture was not all bleak and his organisation was waiting for further figures before getting too concerned.

And he highlighted rising confidence in ethnic communities as to how incidents were being tackled as a possible factor in more complaints.

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He said: "Our position is always that even one increase is worrying, we are trying to bring down reported incidents.

"But we need to be aware that reports are not always bad per se. It could be the case that individuals and families are having the confidence to report these incidents.

"We don't know how many incidents like this go unreported in Suffolk, so this rise could be a positive development."

Mr Budu's words of optimism were echoed by Suffolk police's community relations chief Inspector Peter Haystead.

He works closely with the racial equality council and other minority groups to ensure police policy is as tight as possible.

And he highlighted falling figures from the past year as a positive sign in the fight against racial crime.

He said: "We have seen an increase in the first quarter of the year, but we hope it is because of an increased trust in the constabulary rather than an increase in racist behaviour."

Insp Haystead said although there was a large percentage rise, the actual number of incidents had not grown that much.

And he pointed to a recent survey which showed nearly 80per cent of victims of racial crime were happy with the way the police investigated.

He said: "Over the quarter we are dealing with 14 more incidents, but that's very significant to the 14 people who were the victims of crime.

"About 77pc of people stated they were satisfied with the service the constabulary gave them.

"We would like it to be 100pc, but 77pc is an encouraging figure, particularly given the sensitive nature of the incidents."

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