The assistant chief constable of Sussex Police has welcomed an increase in reports of hate crime incidents across the county.
Between April 2015 and March 2016, 1728 crimes were recorded - an increase of 28 per cent from the same period the previous year, where 1352 offences were committed.
The number of ‘non-crime hate incidents’ also rose, from 447 to 502, an increase of 12 per cent.
However, the increase was seen as encouraging by assistant chief constable Laurence Taylor, who said the rise shows victims have more confidence to come forward.
He said: “We know that hate crimes and incidents in Sussex and across the country are under reported - our goal remains to build confidence in victims to come forward and speak to us, which is why I am encouraged by these increases.
“These also follow a large increase last year (34 per cent). 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 in relation to increasing awareness, especially through our hate crime ambassador initiative, the publicising of successful cases and our online engagement activities have been a significant factor in the increased levels of recorded hate crime.”
Reports made to the police that constitute a crime are divided into separate strands (2014/15 figures in brackets):
Disability 185 (106)
Race 1163 (961)
Religion 133 (106)
Sexual orientation 304 (230)
Transgender 40 (28)
The force also recorded 502 hate incidents, which is behaviour that does not constitute a criminal offence, but is perceived to have been motivated by prejudice or hostility.
Disability 96 (56)
Race 273 (245)
Religion 33 (45)
Sexual orientation 97 (94)
Transgender 27 (20)
Police said the reason the five strands added together are different from the total number of incidents is that more than one strand has been targeted on some occasions.
Sergeant Peter Allan, force hate crime sergeant and trans equality advocate 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 where we have done so much work both internally and externally.
“Victims of transphobic hate face many challenges and I understand how difficult it must be to report the abuse they have suffered. We are working really hard with other criminal justice partners to ensure that such cases are dealt with sensitively and professionally.
“It was particularly pleasing to promote a successful court case in Worthing in January, where the offender received an enhanced sentence because of the hate aspect of the case. It was also pleasing to hear the victim publicly praise the way the police and the courts dealt with her and the case.
“During the coming year, we will be working to understand and promote the role intersectionality plays in hate crime as well as promoting restorative justice as a powerful disposal option that places control of any investigative outcome firmly in the hands of victims.”
Eric Page, who works for the LGBT community safety team at Brighton and Hove City Council said: “It’s good news to see once again that LGBT hate crime being reported to Sussex Police is up, but we know that a lot of hate crime and incidents go unreported, for a whole range of reasons.
“You don’t have to put up with it. I would encourage anyone who has been harmed by LGB or T hate-motivated crime or witnessed any LGBT hate crime to report it. Every report helps Sussex Police to build a true picture of the extent of hate crime and where and when it is happening.
“It’s also encouraging to see more Trans people coming forward to report the hate crimes perpetrated against them and would hope this reflects a growing trust in Sussex Police and the CPS in successfully prosecuting offenders and, as importantly, making sure that successful action taken against these harm-doers is feedback and highlighted to the LGBT community, to show how seriously hate crime is taken by the courts and police.
“One of the new ways to report being harmed by hate crime because of your LGB or Trans identity is to use the new Self Evident smart phone reporting app, supported by the PCC, Sussex Police and Brighton and Hove City Council.
“It’s free to download and use and it harnesses your smart phone; the camera, video, sound files or other forms of digital evidence can all be sent directly to the police, the local authority or a third party LGBT service offering support to victims. The app can also be used to report anti-social behaviour and other forms of crime.”
If you have been a victim of or have witnessed a hate crime, call 101 or 999 if it is an emergency. You can also use an online reporting form which can be found on Sussex Police’s website.
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