POLICE chiefs have welcomed a rise in reports of hate crime over the county in the last year.
During the period April 2014 to March 2015, the total number of recorded crimes rose by from 1,009 in 2013/14 to 1,352 in 2014/15, an increase of 34 per cent.
The number of non-crime hate incidents also rose during the same period, from 299 in 2013/14 to 447 in 2014/15, a boost of just under 50 per cent.
Chief Superintendent Wayne Jones, force lead for hate crime, said the police recognised that hate crime incidents often went unreported and explained that officers were keen to build confidence among victims to come forward and report crimes.
He said: “We have worked very hard, both internally and externally to raise awareness of what constitutes hate crime and how people can report it to us.”
“I am confident that the positive work we have done is a significant factor in the increased levels of recorded hate crime.”
“Hatred and hostility is not a part of the deal of being a disabled person.”Beverley Smith, a coordinator of the Disability Hate Crime Network
He acknowledged that events outside the county – and sometimes outside the country – could have an impact on the incidence of hate crime within Sussex.
However, he added: “Our Neighbourhood Policing Teams are firmly embedded in local communities and work with them to offer reassurance and support.”
Reports made to the police that constitute a crime are divided into separate strands.
The majority of hate crimes reported this year were racially motivated, with 961 reported in the past year, compared to 731 for the previous year.
This year there were 106 reported disability hate crimes, compared to 80 last year. Rises were also noted in the number of religious hate crimes (up to 106 from 71) and sexual orientation (rising to 230 reports this year from 144 in 2013/14).
There has also been a slight rise in the number of transgender related crimes, with 2014/15 seeing 28 such crimes across the county this year compared to 24 in 2013/14.
Likewise, reports of hate incidents – behaviour which is not a crime but can be perceived to have been motivated by prejudice and hostility,
The largest figure remains racial motivated incidents, with 245 recorded this year against 182 from 2013/14.
Other figures show 20 transgender hate incidents were reported this year (16 for 2013/14), 45 religious hate incidents (against 30 last year), 56 disabled incidents (compared to 37 in 2013/14) and 94 hate incidents relating to sexual orientation (rising almost double, from 51 in 2013/14).
Beverley Smith, a coordinator of the Disability Hate Crime Network welcomed Sussex Police’s proactive work to boost confidence in reporting hate crimes.
She said: “Disability hate crime is hugely under-reported in the UK for a number of reasons.
The successful work that Sussex Police continue to do to improve confidence in reporting is showing sustained increases in the number of reports to them
“Hatred and hostility is not a part of the deal of being a disabled person.”
Sergeant Peter Allan, force hate crime sergeant, said: “I am pleased to see that we have recorded more hate crimes and incidents over the last year, especially in the area of disability, which is a particular challenge for all the criminal justice agencies.
“To enable us to tackle this most personal of crimes and support victims, we need people to come forward to report incidents to us. I would urge them to do so.”
He explained that the force had united with the Citizens Advice Bureaus in Littlehampton, Bognor and Chichester.
These sites have all become designated hate incident reporting centres, with more than 80 people coming forward as ‘hate crime ambassadors’.
He added: “During the coming year, as well as continuing the work already mentioned, we will be working to understand the levels of hate crime at a sub-strand level, for example the number of crimes and incidents that target different faiths, ethnic groups and types of disability.
“We will also be focussing on the outcomes of cases, especially how many cases at court are subject to a sentence uplift.”
People experiencing or witnessing hate crimes or incidents are being urged to contact police.
To do so, call either the non-emergency line of 101 or 999 if it is an emergency.
Alternatively, report the incident online by clicking here.