A Freedom of Information (FOI) request by the Boar has found that 603 racially-motivated crimes took place in Warwickshire over the last year, or 1.65 for each day.
While hate crime increased fivefold nationwide in the immediate aftermath of the EU referendum, initial reports found that levels in the county had dropped slightly.
However, the new data represents a 177% increase in racially-motivated crimes in the last five years, while the total number of recorded hate crimes has doubled — despite the region’s population growth falling below the national average at an estimated 0.3% a year.
Meanwhile, crimes motivated by sexual orientation have more than tripled, with 62 taking place in last year as opposed to 18 (6% of all reported hate crimes) in 2011.
Racially-motivated offences accounted for nearly 80% of hate crimes reported to the Warwickshire police over the last year, with a further one in ten being motivated by sexual orientation. Despite representing approximately one tenth of the county population, 14% of reported hate crimes took place in Leamington Spa.
Each of these numbers represents someone who has been targeted because of who they are and this is wrong.
Chief Superintendent Charles Hill
At least two thirds of victims are reported to be male as well as over two fifths of perpetrators, according to a Warwickshire County Council report published at the end of last year.
In Warwickshire, the FOI found that disability accounted for 6% of reported hate crimes, religion 3%, and that there were three (trans)gender-motivated crimes in the past year, neither of which took place in Leamington Spa or Kenilworth.
Race was also an overwhelming factor in cases of harassment, representing over three-quarters of the incidents reported since last June, while a further 13% were motivated by sexual orientation.
Of the offences reported over the past year, just over half of race-motivated crimes resulted in a charge or summons, with a further 13% saw a charge or summons for an “alternate offence.” Another 35% ended in a caution or community resolution.
The county police force describes hate crime as a criminal offence motivated by the perpetrator’s hostility or prejudice to perceived race, religion, sexual orientation, disability, gender identity or individual characteristics; it encompasses assault, graffiti, theft and hate mail as well as harassment and assault.
A council survey found that only 67% of respondents understood what a hate crime was.
Following the launch of a new strategy to combat hate crime, in the wake of the Finsbury Park mosque attack, Chief Superintendent Charles Hill said:
Together we can reinforce the message that hate crime is unacceptable and will not be tolerated in Warwickshire.
Crime Commissioner Philip Seccombe
“Despite a steady increase in the reporting of hate crimes in recent years we know that they are still underreported and this is why we felt it was important to set out exactly what victims can expect when they contact the police.”
“We welcome the increased reporting in hate crime in the county in recent years because this shows that more victims are having the confidence to come forward and report their ordeal to police.
“However, each of these numbers represents someone who has been targeted because of who they are and this is wrong.”
“The world has changed a lot since our last hate crime strategy was launched; following Brexit we saw a spike in hate crime reports and concerns around Islamophobic hate crime have also grown.”
Crime Commissioner Philip Seccombe added: “I’m really keen to encourage everyone to play their part in tackling hate crime, ensuring that it is reported to the police whenever it occurs.”
“Failing to do so only encourages offenders to think their behaviour is acceptable, when the reality is that the impact it can have on the victim and their family can be devastating.”
“So whether you have been a victim yourself or have witnessed a hate crime taking place against someone else, please report it. Together we can reinforce the message that hate crime is unacceptable and will not be tolerated in Warwickshire.”