The Police Service of Northern Ireland will be taking the opportunity to highlight the extent and impact of hate crime across Northern Ireland, during Regional Hate Crime Awareness Week (7-13 February).
The most recent statistics published by the Service (September 2021) show that the number of incidents recorded rose across five of the six hate motivations (racist, homophobic, sectarian, disability, and faith/religion) when compared with the previous 12 months. Incidents and crimes with a racist motivation showed the largest overall increase (353 incidents and 276 crimes).
A hate crime or incident can involve people being targeted based on their disability, gender identity, race, religion and sexual orientation. It can take many forms such as physical and verbal attacks, vandalism, graffiti, online abuse and threatening behaviours.
This week the Police Service will be sharing messages across their social media channels to educate the public on how to recognise Hate Crime so we can all play a part in challenging and stopping it.
Endorsing the campaign Assistant Chief Constable Bobby Singleton said: “There is no place for hate in Northern Ireland and we take reports of these types of crimes and incidents incredibly seriously.
“Hate crime can have a long lasting, damaging impact on victims and their wider community. We believe that every person has the right to go about their lives without being the target of abusive language or criminal behaviour motivated by hate or prejudice.
“Everyone has a role in tackling hate crime and eliminating this behaviour from our society.”
The Police Service of Northern Ireland, alongside the Department of Justice, fund a dedicated Advocacy Service to help and support victims of Hate Crime. Six specialist Hate Crime Advocates, who represent all communities, support victims through the criminal justice process to help bring offenders to justice. Between March 2020 and April 2021 the Advocacy Service received 1423 referrals.
One mother of a young victim they supported explained how Hate Crime has affected their family: “We’ve been starved of human kindness because they see us as different. I can’t remember when I last saw my child laughing, when the community turn their back on you its real isolation”
Another victim said: “Six months on and I still can’t go out on my own at night, at the back of my head I’m waiting for another attack.”
Assistant Chief Constable Bobby Singleton added: “Although we have seen an increase in people coming forward, we believe these crimes and incidents are still underreported. I would appeal to anyone who has experienced a hate crime or incident to report it to Police. We are here to help you and can make sure you get access to the support you need.”
Report to Police by dialling 101 or 999 in an emergency. You can also report via a third party or the online Police reporting form, which can be anonymous. If you have any information in relation to a Hate Crime you can call Crimestoppers completely anonymously on 0800 555 111.
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