As reported by the Bexhill Observer on Friday, recorded hate crime has risen by a quarter in Sussex over the past year. During the period April 2015 to March 2016, the total number of recorded crimes rose from 1352 in 2014/15 to 1728 in 2015/16, an increase of 28%.
This follows another large increase, in the previous year, of 34%.
The number of non-crime hate incidents also rose during the same period, from 447 in 2014/15 to 502 in 2015/16 – an increase of 12%.
Reports break down the results as follows:
· Disability 185 (up from 106 in the 2014/15 period)
· Race 1163 (up from 961)
· Religion 133 (up from 106)
· Sexual orientation 304 (up from 230)
· Transgender 40 (up from 28)
These are shocking figures but, despite the rise, police have said they are encouraged. They say this shows better reporting on the part of the police, and a greater willingness for victims to come forward and get the help they need. It certainly does prove that hate crime should be a top priority for a PCC in Sussex.
It follows news from earlier this year that reported a 37% spike in race hate crimes on British railway networks, and news from late last year reporting an 18% rise in hate crimes across England and Wales.
As PCC, I intend to put a great deal of focus on tackling this issue in Sussex. While it is encouraging that awareness and police reporting is improving, these figures show there is a worrying problem in our communities. I will make sure we are tackling the root causes of hate crime, as well as the effects. That means working with charities and support networks to build awareness of hate crime, challenge the prejudices that lead to these offences, and support victims in the most effective way possible.
I want to be part of a community where everyone, regardless of disability, race, religion or gender identification, feels safe and secure in their homes and on our streets.