Recent figures from Northumbria Police have shown a large increase in race and faith hate crime over the last 2 years
Gateshead, Newcastle, North Tyneside, South Tyneside, Sunderland and Northumberland have all seen a significant rise in race and faith hate crime since 2014. Across all of these areas between 2015-2016 alone race hate crime was up a worrying 35%.
The rise in numbers could because of better reporting measures and people’s willingness to come forward, however we know that hate crime is still hugely underreported and individuals often do not report one off incidents, but come forward after the frequency and intensity escalates.
In the figures shared by the Police there was a notable rise in hate crime around the time of the EU referendum. Across Northumbria there was over a 70% increase in race hate crime reporting during this period compared to the same time in 2015. This negates the argument that the numbers have increased simply because more people are coming forward and reporting hate crime. If that was the case we would have seen a steady rise not such a sharp incline, and we also would have also seen a similar spike in numbers for LGBT and Disability hate crime around the time of the referendum.
What is more likely is that the spike in the amount of race and faith hate crime is as a result of the Brexit arguments during the EU referendum. There were those who believed that the referendum was a referendum on our borders and the result may have given them a legitimacy to espouse racist and xenophobic views, which created an environment where hate crime could be committed against innocent individuals.
This situation was also seen nationally, where in the days following the referendum the massive increase in reported hate crime was the worst on police records.
The truly worrying fact is that studies have shown us that on average only 1 in every 4 hate crimes are actually reported. Therefore the actual numbers of hate crime occurring regionally and nationally in the last couple of years, and particularly since the EU referendum, are just the tip of the iceberg.
It is vital at this point that we address these issues before we find them escalating any further. The effects of hate crime, intolerance and discrimination not only impact on the individual receiving the attack, but our neighbourhoods and community at large.
Racist attitudes are supported by misinformation and a lack of critical thinking skills., therefore education, and the opportunity to talk openly and honestly about these issues, is needed now more than ever.
Written by SRtRC Education Worker, Justine King