Northern Ireland news

Average of seven hate crimes reported to PSNI each day

Racist crime in Northern Ireland remains at one of its highest levels since records began in 2004. Picture by iStock
Michael McHugh, Press Association

MORE than seven hate crimes or incidents are reported to the PSNI every day, a report said.

The number of racist cases reduced slightly to 1,133 in the 12 months to June but remained one of the highest tallies since records began in 2004.

Amnesty International said the level of crime inspired by racism, sectarianism or homophobia was disturbing.

Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty's Northern Ireland director, said: "These hate crime figures are worryingly high.

"Overall, there are eight hate-motivated incidents or crimes reported to the police every day in Northern Ireland.

"Three times a day there is a racism-motivated incident or crime - almost as high as the figures for incidents motivated by sectarianism, despite the relatively small numbers of people in Northern Ireland from ethnic minorities or from other countries."

There were 1,208 sectarian incidents including 874 sectarian crimes, as well as 324 incidents including 201 crimes with a homophobic motivation, according to a PSNI report to the end of June.

Mr Corrigan said: "The police figures show that fewer than one in five racist crimes result in any specific outcome, suggesting that over 80 per cent of such hate crimes result in no prosecution or even warning for the offender."

They included theft, assaults and criminal damage.

Mr Corrigan said: "Homophobic hate crime remains disturbingly high with figures almost identical to those of the last two years, the highest ever recorded by the police.

"Attacks on premises such as Orange halls have grown, an ugly trend which must be ended."

This month a rock was thrown through the window of a Slovakian family's house in Belfast.

Last year an African pensioner whose house was targeted by racists in a paint-bomb attack left his home.

Mr Corrigan said: "We welcome the publication of these figures by the PSNI and the slight decrease in some forms of hate crime they show.

"But overall the response must be of huge concern given that almost 3,000 such incidents were recorded by the police last year."

The 2011 census found that 32,400 people - 1.8 per cent of the usually resident population - belonged to ethnic minority groups. This was more than double the proportion a decade earlier.

In recent years many of the racist incidents took place in working class loyalist areas, where housing is cheap and minorities congregated. However, racist incidents are not confined to loyalist areas.

At one point, Northern Ireland was dubbed the race hate capital of Europe following a police suggestion that a paramilitary group was involved in racist violence.

The authorities have introduced a range of measures to support victims, including assistance in securing social housing and have conducted anti-racism training.

Former first minister Peter Robinson apologised for insensitive remarks about Muslims after he suggested he would not trust those devoted to sharia law and defended a pastor who called Islam "heathen" and "satanic".

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