Northern Ireland news

Hate crime victim 'waiting for another attack' as offences rise

St Mary's Church in Ahoghill, Co Antrim, was paint-bombed in a hate crime in May 2020. Picture by Hugh Russell

A HATE crime victim has said they are "waiting for another attack" amid a sharp jump in offences.

Racist hate crimes jumped sharply over a 12-month period with 864 reported between October 2020 and September 2021 - a rise of 276 on the previous 12 months.

Sectarian offences and crimes based on a person's faith or religion also rose over the same period.

A total of 802 sectarian crimes were reported between October 2020 and September 2021 - 174 more than the previous 12-month period.

Crimes motived by someone's faith or religion also jumped from 12 reports between October 2019 and September 2020 to 53 reports between October 2020 and September 2021.

The PSNI is highlighting the impact of hate crime across the north this week.

Police figures look at crimes which are motivated by hatred of someone's race, sexuality, gender identity, community background, disability, and faith or religion.

Hate crimes rose in all six categories.

The PSNI said hate crimes can include physical and verbal attacks, vandalism, graffiti, online abuse and threatening behaviour.

One anonymous hate crime victim said they have struggled in the months following their attack.

"Six months on and I still can’t go out on my own at night, at the back of my head I’m waiting for another attack," the victim said.

The mother of a young victim said hate crime had badly affected her family.

"We’ve been starved of human kindness because they see us as different," she said.

"I can't remember when I last saw my child laughing, when the community turn their back on you its real isolation."

Assistant Chief Constable Bobby Singleton said there is "no place" for such crimes in Northern Ireland.

"We believe that every person has the right to go about their lives without being the target of abusive language or criminal behaviour motivated by hate or prejudice.

“Everyone has a role in tackling hate crime and eliminating this behaviour from our society.”

He said although police have seen an increase in hate crimes "we believe these crimes and incidents are still underreported".

"I would appeal to anyone who has experienced a hate crime or incident to report it to police," he said.

"We are here to help you and can make sure you get access to the support you need."

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