Reports of racial hate crimes on the rise in Avon and Somerset

Reports of racial hate crimes are on the increase in the Avon and Somerset areas.

Reports of racial hate crimes are on the increase in the Avon and Somerset areas. - Credit: Archant

Racially-motivated hate crimes are on the increase according in Avon and Somerset.

The spike in racial hate crimes has been attributed to a growing intolerance for hate crimes spurred on by events such as the Black Lives Matters protests, which have empowered more victims to report offences to the police.

Officers say they are working closely with partner organisations in Avon and Somerset to tackle the issue of under-reporting hate crimes by strengthening relationships with minority communities, raising awareness of what a hate crime looks like, and educating bystanders about what to do when they witness one of these crimes.

Hate crime lead at Avon and Somerset Constabulary, Superintendent Andy Bennett, said: “Events taking place not only across the pond but also right on our doorsteps, have catapulted racism and hate crime into the centre of many discussions in recent months.

“I know how damaging hate crimes can be to our communities, and how destructive they can be to someone’s psychological health and wellbeing. We must put a stop to it.”

Between January and August 2020, officers registered a total of 2,599 hate crimes, up from 2,310 during the same period in 2019 – of these, 72 per cent were racially-motivated hate crimes. Racial hate crime continues to feature as the most prominent type of hate crime, in particular hate crimes committed towards black, Asian and ethnic communities.

A police audit of 155 hate crimes reported in June 2020 revealed 43 per cent of cases appeared to include hostility directed towards someone from the black community, or who identified under one of the black ethnic groupings. And a 10 per cent increase of incidents towards individuals from Asian communities.

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Supt Bennett, added: “Hate crime is not limited to physical abuse. If someone harasses you, and/or shouts abusive language at you in the street, then this is also a hate crime.

“Posting offensive, abusive, and hurtful content on social media platforms is also considered a hate crime.

£Tackling hate crime is a top priority for our police force. We want to remind you that you are not alone and we are here to help you.”