Hate crime figures are the second highest in Sussex

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Crawley reports more racial hate crime than any other local authority in East and West Sussex except Brighton.

Sussex Police’s Hate Crime Sergeant said the 203 cases in the town reported to the force from April 1 2014 was second only to Brighton.

Sgt Peter Allan said it was unclear why the figure was so high at an awareness raising event at The Hawth.

He said: “It could be that there’s more hate here, it could be people are more confident to report it.”

Spikes in the data coincided with international events such the murder of British soldier Lee Rigby by non-white extremists.

He said: “I think you can draw a parallel between the number of visible black, and ethnic minority people [in Crawley].

“We have seen spikes with events that happen around the world.

“The things that do happen can have an impact.”

Some 100 people attended the day event on Wednesday by Victim Support’s West Sussex branch The Hate Incident Support Service (THISS).

The director of a group that records anti-Muslim attacks said the national figures ‘spiked sharply’ following the Lee Rigby murder in May 2013.

Fiyaz Mughul, of TELL MAMA UK, said he expected anti-Muslim incidents in schools to rise ‘significantly’ following murders by Islamist terrorists in Paris.

Gunmen killed 12 staff at the French magazine Charlie Hebdo after it published a cartoon of the Islamic prophet Mohammed in January.

Mr Mughul added the ‘vast majority’ of the incidents were male on female abuse and happened online.

He said one in four of the cases had links to far right groups and added: “Clearly far right activity has led to deaths.”

Heena Patel, of THISS, asked Peter Allan what police could do to combat hate crime on social media at the event.

Mr Allan said there were too many cases for the criminal justice system to prosecute.

He encouraged people to report the incidents to police so it could better allocate its resources for helping communities.

Fiyaz Mughul said: “I think there’s a responsibility on us all if we are on social media to counter that by not just being resistant but to counter that by providing positive messages. We are in a environment where the resources are very small in a growing issue.”

Harriet Fearn, a PhD student at the University of Sussex studying internet hate crime said: “It’s surprising how pervasive it is in people’s lives.

Beverly Knight, a county council officer responsible for commissioning THISS, called for more people to report hate crimes.