Northern Ireland

Racist crime at an all time high in Northern Ireland

More than eight hate-motivated incidents or crimes were reported to the police a day last year

Patrick Corrigan, of Amnesty International, was providing his analysis of the UK Illegal Migration Act and its potential consequences for the Good Friday Agreement (Liam McBurney PA)
Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty International's Northern Ireland Director (Liam McBurney PA)

Amnesty International has called for “zero tolerance” after newly published data revealed that last year saw the highest level of race hate reports in Northern Ireland since records began.

There were 1,353 racist incidents and 839 racist crimes recorded by the PSNI in the year to the end of March 2024. This was the highest recorded since records began in 2004/05.

Almost half were recorded in Belfast, with 635 incidents and 405 crimes recorded in the city.

Amnesty International has expressed concern at the figures published in a report by the PSNI and the NI Statistics and Research Agency.

Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty International’s Northern Ireland Director, said: “The rate of incidents motivated by racism now outstrip those motivated by sectarianism, despite the relatively small numbers of people in Northern Ireland from ethnic minority backgrounds.

“That means that a member of an ethnic minority community is vastly more likely to be a victim of a hate crime.

“We need a zero tolerance approach to racist and other hate-motivated crime in Northern Ireland. Yet that is not what victims of these crimes see, with all too few offenders held to account.”

The last 12 months also saw the number of racially-motivated hate incidents reported in the north exceed the number of sectarian incidents since 2016/17.

According to the report 1,091 sectarian incidents and 730 sectarian crimes reported to the police, but sectarian incidents overall were down on the previous year.

Incidents with a transphobic or homophobic motivation were also down overall, with 452 incidents and 282 crimes recorded.

The figures published show that overall crime is down 6.3% on the previous year with 104,344 crimes recorded, down from 7,067. It was the lowest level recorded since lockdown restrictions were in place.

Stalking and harassment crimes saw the largest decrease and were down by 3,553 (25%) during the year while violent crimes also saw smaller decreases.

But theft offences were up overall (3%) with offences like shoplifting jumping from 7,511 to 8,979 during the last 12 months.