Weston in top 10 police wards for hate crimes
PUBLISHED: 07:00 09 April 2018
More hate crimes are being reported in the centre of Weston-super-Mare than almost anywhere else in the Avon and Somerset police force area, a new report has revealed.
An increasing number of hate incidents were recorded by police in North Somerset in 2016/17, and Weston is in the top 10 of police wards for the volume of reports.
It was one of only three wards outside Bristol to be in the top 20.
Most of the incidents are race-related, though there has been a large increase in disability hate crime reports too.
Avon and Somerset Constabulary and North Somerset Council say they will continue to strengthen a ‘zero tolerance approach’ to hate crime.
The increase in incidents in North Somerset to 332 is linked to efforts to encourage confidence in reporting, and improvements made to police recording practices.
The Safe and Stronger North Somerset Plan, drawn up by the police and council says: “It is widely accepted under-reporting is an issue in hate crime offences and police-recorded crime statistics are not an accurate reflection of the true extent of offending.
“Hate crime will not be tolerated in North Somerset and we will continue to work with communities and across the partnership to raise awareness, promote reporting, support victims and bring perpetrators to justice.”
A welfare rights advisor from Weston and North Somerset Disability Information and Advice Line (DIAL) said the types of hate crime can be varied, from intimidation to comments made on the street.
They said: “This is a complex issue. Unless people are disabled themselves or unless they have a close friend or someone they are looking after, the word ‘disabled’ doesn’t really come to mind.
“There is a lack of understanding about disability as a whole, and hate crime probably comes from a lack of understanding.”
The council is part of the Responding to Hate Incidents in North Somerset group, which manages the district’s hate crime strategy. An updated plan is being updated following a consultation in early February.
A DIAL spokesman added: “If you find yourself in a position, where you would like to talk to someone in confidence, but don’t want to go to the police or set off court action, you can talk to us.”
DIAL can be reached on 01934 419426.