Communities told to report racism

PUBLISHED: 13:00 28 January 2010 | UPDATED: 11:38 25 May 2010

TOO many people are getting away with racial abuse in Weston because communities are turning a blind eye, an anti-racism charity claims.

TOO many people are getting away with racial abuse in Weston because communities are turning a blind eye, an anti-racism charity claims.

Support Against Racist Incidents is urging residents to get behind victims and stamp out offenders in the town.

The message comes after a report by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) showed 323 cases of racial and religious abuse in Avon and Somerset were brought before the courts.

The Bristol-based charity's assistant director Alex Raikes said she believed many hundreds more incidents of racism went on but did not reach the court.

Last week, the group received four referrals in 10 days from North Somerset Council including an African woman racially abused in front of her 10-year-old son in Weston town centre and an Asian family receiving threats from a gang of youths in the Oldmixon.

She said: "We need communities to have the confidence to report such crimes when they happen and be able to stand as witnesses if the case goes to court.

"There are too many cases where people won't give evidence or the police don't have the resources to pursue the offender.

"We then end up with a scenario where hundreds of incidents are reported but only a few go to the courts."

The CPS report showed out of the 323 cases brought to the court, 273 led to convictions and 50 were unsuccessful.

This compared to the year before when 328 cases went to court, with 268 leading to convictions and 60 being thrown out.

Ms Raikes added: "The report does show a good success rate and clearly highlights the CPS making sensible decisions on what cases to take to court.

"I'd just like to see more cases we hear about going to court and leading to convictions."

Chief crown prosecutor for Avon and Somerset Barry Hughes said: "This report shows how seriously we take all types of hate crimes.

"Being targeted because of your race, religion, sexuality or disability is a profoundly isolating experience and one we will prosecute wherever possible.

"People from all communities have a legitimate right to expect protection from the prejudice and discrimination that are at the root of hate crime.

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