RACIST hate crimes have increased across West Mercia by more than 100 per cent since the EU Referendum, a shock new report has revealed.
HMICFRS, the body which examines the effectiveness of the country’s police and fire service, found the region saw a 102 per cent increase with 1,321 offences in 2016/17 compared to 654 in 2014/15.
Home office chiefs noted police recording methods had improved but admitted part of the rise was because of the ‘genuine increase in hate crime, particularly around the time of the EU referendum’.
The total number of hate crimes in West Mercia increased by 355 in 2016-17, with racist offences making up the majority.
The figures also show a rise in Islamophobic and anti-Semitic hate crime, where religion was a motivating factor – 28 cases were recorded in 2016/17, three more than the previous year.
Incidents where disability is the motivating factor have also risen, from 54 in 2015-16 to 77 a year later.
Chief Supt Kevin Purcell, who leads West Mercia Police’s response to hate crime, said: “No-one should be targeted for being themselves and we can never underestimate the devastating effect being a victim of a hate crime can have on people.
“Over the past few years we have worked very hard to raise awareness of what hate crime is and encourage people to come forward and report this to police, working with our partners to make sure support is available.
“We recognise how it important it is in getting our response to hate crime right and are currently carrying out a lot of work to improve this and our contact with victims. We have already made great strides in this but are not complacent and know there is always room for improvement.
“We work very closely with our independent advisory groups made up of representatives from our local communities to ensure our response is appropriate and is considerate to the needs of victims.
“There is no place for hate crime in our communities and I really would urge anyone who feels they have been targeted because of who they are to come forward and report this to police.”
Police and Crime Commissioner John Campion said “I have invested in a number of projects, providing a joined up approach to addressing hate crime, and I am reassured by the work of West Mercia Police who are raising awareness and engaging with communities.”