Rise in hate crimes in North Somerset
PUBLISHED: 07:00 24 October 2019
The number of hate crimes has risen by 23 per cent in the past two years, with racial offences linked to Brexit.
There were 153 recorded hate crimes in 2018 in North Somerset, compared to 110 in 2016 - the highest number of offences were linked to sexual orientation.
There was also a 39 per cent increase in racial offences and a 13 per cent increase in religious hate crime - with figures revealing a spike following the EU referendum.
Superintendent Andy Bennett, Avon and Somerset's force lead for hate crime said: "We do know there's been an impact from Brexit so when we look at figures, particularly around racial hatred, they started to rise at the time of the vote.
"We still believe there's a lot of ignorance, and it's almost like it has given people a mandate.
"When you look at European minorities, it's the same across most racial groups, and that's been replicated nationally and it's something we are really concerned about."
The spike in hate crimes has been attributed to a number of factors such as, the result of the EU referendum, which is said to have emboldened and validated individuals already inclined towards racial hate to act.
Police say the increase can be attributed to greater awareness of hate crimes and more victims coming forward.
Neighbourhood teams have strong links with charities and religious groups to enable them to support victims and encourage people to come forward.
However, officers say transgender and disability hate crimes are under-reported.
Supt Bennett added: "I am confident these crimes are becoming increasingly rejected in our society and we are seeing more people come forwards to report hate crimes.
"Having said this, there are still too many communities at risk of under reporting hate crimes due to a wide variety of factors, including language barriers, a fear of payback and a lack of understanding of what happens when a crime is reported as well as accepting hate crimes as normal behaviour.
"We need your help to identify those who are committing these crimes and ultimately stop it happening.
"If you have been a victim of a hate crime, we encourage you to come forwards, either to us or to one of our partner organisations, and report the incident as soon as you can."
Police officers have been restricted from taking holidays next week in case of Brexit-related unrest.