Hate crimes on the rise in North East Lincolnshire as more victims are coming forward
REPORTED incidents of hate crime in North East Lincolnshire are expected to increase this year.
But the figures are being viewed as a positive by police and council bosses who say it is a sign that more victims are being encouraged to come forward.
A hate crime is defined as a criminal offence which is perceived by the victim or any other person, as being motivated by prejudice or hate on the grounds of race, colour, belief, sexual orientation or disability.
The number of reported hate crimes in the borough has remained fairly constant since April 2010, with 283 incidents in 2010-11 and 288 in 2011-12.
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However, an increase to 312 is projected for 2012-13, after 104 incidents were reported in the first four months of the financial year.
But Spencer Hunt, the council's safer and stronger communities manager, said the figures were nothing to be concerned about.
Addressing the safer and stronger communities scrutiny panel, he said: "We are not looking at this as a negative. We specifically said this wasn't about a reduction target, it was about trying to encourage people to come forward and report at the earliest opportunity, and it's then that we can put the support in."
Mr Hunt added that since the introduction of a dedicated hate crime investigation officer, Humberside Police was now detecting more hate crimes than in previous years.
As of August 12 this year, the detection rate for racially and religiously aggravated crimes was 40 per cent, which compares favourably with the figures for violent crime (39 per cent) and overall crime (29 per cent).
He said: "It shows there's an emphasis within the police in trying to detect these kinds of crime. It's not an easy type of crime to prove and detect."
Becky Freeman, chairwoman of the Safer and Stronger Communities Hate Crime Action Group, told the panel about various projects being undertaken to tackle hate crime and encourage victims to come forward.
These included workshops in primary schools, advice leaflets for takeaway staff and a forthcoming film competition, as reported below.
Councillor Steve Beasant (Lib Dem, East Marsh) said: "I'm quite pleased and reassured by the work that's being done. I feel quite comforted seeing these figures."
Councillor Iain Colquhoun (Con, Waltham) said: "Although there's a problem in North East Lincolnshire it's not a unique problem to us and it's not a particularly severe problem overall, but to those people affected it's very important."
Praising the work of the Hate Crime Action Group, he added: "If you carry on doing the work that you are doing I would have thought it will do an awful lot to mitigate these sort of crimes."