Record number of hate crimes reported to police
- Credit: Archant
A record number of hate crimes were reported to Avon and Somerset Police in the last 12 months according to data released by the Home Office.
The number of reported hate crimes across England and Wales has increased each year since records began in 2011-2012.
In total, 3,351 offences were reported to Avon and Somerset Police in the 12 months ending March 2021 - a seven per cent increase on the previous year and a 16 per cent jump from 2019.
North Somerset Council's executive for safe communities, Cllr Mike Solomon, condemned the figures, stating that more needs to educate young people on the impacts of hate crimes to prevent further rises.
Cllr Solomon said: "The figures do not surprise me and, if I had to guess, I expect the reported cases to be a fraction of the actual amount of hate crimes committed.
"I think we need to target schools and young people to educate them on the subject and why it is so wrong, this could also lead to them pointing out to any adults they know with these hateful points of view.
"We all need to start pulling up friends or family who make small remarks, there should be zero tolerance."
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Of the reported offences, 2,537 were deemed to be racially motivated, accounting for 75 per cent of the hate crimes reported to the police.
Cllr Solomon added: "I would have expected the majority of the reported crimes to be racially motivated.
"There is no excuse and more should be done to make reporting these crimes easier. Many people feel they are wasting police time when reporting comments but these things build up in our community."
Avon and Somerset Police's Superintendent told the Mercury that it was encouraging to see a rise in the figures as it demonstrates that more people are beginning to feel comfortable with reporting the incidents and seeking help when needed.
Superintendent Paul Wigginton said: "Whilst we have recorded an increase in hate crimes in the last twelve months, this increase can be attributed to a number of different factors.
"For example, events which occurred in 2020 such as the Black Lives Matter protests in the UK, propelled these types of crimes to the top of people’s minds.
"Following these events, we recorded a spike in the number of reported hate crimes, which we believe was a result of a growing intolerance for this type of behaviour, as well as a better understanding of what constitutes a hate crime and a boost in confidence in victims to report to the police.
"I am encouraged by the numbers. They suggest more people are feeling empowered to talk about hate crime and are encouraging each other to report to us when they have been victimised for who they are; their sexual and/or religious beliefs, and/or for what they look like."
To report a hate crime either contact 101 or visit www.avonandsomerset.police.uk/report/crime-or-incident