Northern Ireland news

Race hate crimes and incidents in NI soar by more than 40 per cent

Race hate crimes and incidents in Northern Ireland have soared over the past year

RACE hate crimes and incidents in Northern Ireland have soared by more than 40 per cent over the past year.

Figures from the PSNI also reveal disability hate crimes increased significantly, with the level of sectarian incidents at its highest since 2016.

Amnesty International last night said the statistics "reveal a disturbingly high rise in the rate of hate crimes in Northern Ireland". It highlighted that eight hate crimes or incidents are reported to police in the north every day.

From October 1 2020 to September 30 this year, there were 1,231 racist incidents and 864 racist crimes recorded by police - an increase of 353 and 276 on the previous year.

There were 1,102 sectarian incidents and 802 sectarian crimes - a rise of 233 and 174.

Police said the "level of sectarian incidents is the highest 12-month period recorded since the period January 2016 to December 2016".

A further 401 incidents and 265 crimes with a homophobic motivation were recorded.

There were more than 248 incidents and 190 crimes reported that had disability, religious or transphobic motivation.

Patrick Corrigan from Amnesty International said "Northern Ireland is suffering a hate crime epidemic".

"The figures paint a deeply disturbing picture of how hatred continues to grow at a pace across the entire community - regardless of age, race or religious background - and yet too little seems to be being done by the PSNI to counter it," he said.

"On average, a racially-motivated incident or crime is reported three times each day - that’s higher than the rate of incidents motivated by sectarianism, despite the relatively small numbers of people from ethnic minority communities in Northern Ireland.

"That means that a member of an ethnic minority community is vastly more likely to be a victim of hate crime. And yet, police figures expose that roughly 90 per cent of race hate crimes reported to them go unpunished. This is totally unacceptable."

Evelyn Collins from the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland said the figures were "shocking" and "shame us as a society".

"These types of crimes and incidents normalise prejudice and increase fear and have an effect on all of us," she said.

"We must all speak out against hate crime as saying nothing effectively condones it.

"It is clear that stronger measures are needed to tackle the persistent and growing problem of hate crime against a range of equality groups in Northern Ireland. This includes reform of the hate crime legislation."

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