19/11/2013

42% Of Racist Offences Occur In Belfast

In 2012, 42% of all racially-motivated offences recorded in Northern Ireland related to Belfast. The same was true for 32% of homophobic offences and 40% of sectarian offences.

The statistics have been released by Belfast City Council as it begins a new billboard campaign to help tackle hate crime.

The Council has funded the campaign and is working with the PSNI, Belfast Policing and Community Safety Partnership (PCSP) and a number of other agencies.

Councillor Maire Hendron, chairman of the Good Relations Steering Group, said: "While the PSNI has cited an increase in the number of hate crime incidents that are being reported, and that is to be welcomed, there is still a lot of work to be done as it has been estimated that as many as 80% of these kind of crimes go unreported.

"Belfast is becoming more and more diverse, with many minority ethnic groups making this city their home and it’s important that we as a council show civic leadership. While the investigation of hate crime is a police matter, we’re working hard through our tension monitoring to establish channels of communication and to raise awareness about how to report hate crime – be it racist, sectarian or homophobic."

Recent operational policing figures suggest that confidence in reporting incidents is growing.

Recorded incidents for the period 1 April – 9 November 2013 compared to the same period the previous year showed:
  • 86% increase in the number of recorded racist incidents in Belfast (215 incidents compared with 115 incidents)
  • 47 % increase in the number of recorded homophobic incidents in Belfast (50 incidents compared with 34 incidents)
  • 36% increase in the number of recorded sectarian incidents in Belfast (259 incidents compared with 190 incidents)
Discussing hate crime, PSNI Chief Inspector Gabriel Moran said: "The PSNI has been working with a range of partners to encourage victims of any hate crime to report their experience to police. Over the last number of years a series of mechanisms have been established to assist minority groups in the community to increase engagement with police. Literature has been produced in a number of different languages to make the reporting process easier for victims. Hate Crime advocates also exist to support victims of hate crime and advocacy groups are also a key channel for reporting incidents.

"Recent changes have been made in partnership with advocacy groups and the Northern Ireland Policing Board to enhance the consistency of investigation and support offered to victims of hate crime. This has been accompanied by training to ensure that officers accurately identify and record incidents as hate related or hate motivated."

(IT/MH)

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