The number of hate crimes recorded by Sussex Police has risen by more than 300 in the past year.
Officers welcomed the news as they felt the more people reporting such incidents rather than keeping things to themselves would enable police to tackle the issue.
Sergeant Peter Allan, force hate crime sergeant 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, which is a particular challenge for all the criminal justice agencies.
“To enable us to tackle this most personal of crimes and support victims, we need people to come forward to report incidents to us. I would urge them to do so.”
Between April 2014 to March 2015, the total number of recorded crimes rose from 1,009 (in 2013/14) to 1,352 (in 2014/15), an increase of 34 per cent.
The number of non-crime hate incidents also rose during the same period, from 299 to 447, an increase of 49.5 per cent.
To enable us to tackle this most personal of crimes and support victims, we need people to come forward to report incidents to us. I would urge them to do soSergeant Peter Allan
Chief Superintendent Wayne Jones, force lead for hate crime, said: “We know that hate crimes and incidents in Sussex have been under reported - our goal remains to build confidence in victims to come forward and speak to us which is why I welcome these increases.
“These also follow a large increase last year (28%). 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 is a significant factor in the increased levels of recorded hate crime.
“I do acknowledge however, that events that occur outside Sussex, and sometimes outside the country can have an impact on the incidence of hate crime within the county.
“Our Neighbourhood Policing Teams are firmly embedded in local communities and work with them to offer reassurance and support.
“If you have been a victim of or have witnessed a hate crime, I would urge you to call us on 101 or 999 if it is an emergency. For those who would prefer, you can use our online reporting form which can be found on our website.”
Reports made to the police that constitute a crime are divided into separate strands. The 2013/14 figures are in brackets:
· Disability 106 (80)
· Race 961 (731)
· Religion 106 (71)
· Sexual orientation 230 (144)
· Transgender 28 (24)
The force also recorded 447 hate incidents, which is behaviour that does not constitute a criminal offence, but is perceived to have been motivated by prejudice or hostility.
The incidents are:
· Disability 56 (37)
· Race 245 (182)
· Religion 45 (30)
· Sexual orientation 94 (51)
· Transgender 20 (16)
The reason the five strands when added together are different from the total number of crimes or incidents is that more than one strand has been targeted in some instances.
Sgt Allan added: “We have joined with the Citizens’ Advice Bureau in Bognor, Chichester and Littlehampton to accredit them as Hate Incident Reporting Centres and had over eighty people come forward to become Hate Crime Ambassadors.
“During the coming year, as well as continuing the work already mentioned, we will be working to understand the levels of hate crime at a sub-strand level, for example the number of crimes and incidents that target different faiths, ethnic groups and types of disability.
“We will also be focussing on the outcomes of cases, especially how many cases at court are subject to a sentence uplift.”
Beverley Smith, a coordinator of the Disability Hate Crime Network said, “Disability Hate Crime is hugely under-reported in the UK for a number of reasons. The successful work that Sussex Police continue to do to improve confidence in reporting is showing sustained increases in the number of reports to them.
“I am pleased to be working with Sussex Police to support their work.
“Hatred and hostility is not a part of the deal of being a disabled person. I urge people to report all incidents and crimes to the police so that these can be properly dealt with.”