28 February 2008

Race offences on rise in Suffolk

MORE people than ever are being found guilty of racially aggravated offences of violence in Suffolk, it emerged today.

New figures show the conviction rate has nearly trebled in only five years, from just 20 in 2002, to 58 in 2006.

The dramatic increase mirrors a similar sharp rise in the numbers of reported racist incidents.

In 1998/99, 150 offences which were believed to have been motivated by prejudice or hate, owing to race and faith, were reported.

But by 2006/07, that figure had leapt to 437 - a 191 per cent rise.

Police claim the increase could be down to the implementation of a number of measures aimed at making the reporting of such offences easier.

However, Jane Basham, director of the Ipswich and Suffolk Council for Racial Equality (ISCRE), said the results were an indication that racism was on the rise in the county.

“We must remember that it is a minority of people who commit race hate crime,” she said.

“Racism is an issue in Suffolk. The reality is that we continue to see an increase in racism across the county.

“ISCRE does not believe there is any real evidence to support the view that increased reporting and conviction rates of race hate crime is as a direct result of vigilance of agencies and confidence in the system.”

All police forces are required to closely monitor offences deemed to be racially aggravated.

Suffolk police said a new website and freephone number had made reporting racist incidents simpler, thus speeding up the conviction rate.

The force also believes the influx of migrant workers from Eastern Europe, many of whom are attracted to the county's employment opportunities, could also be behind the increase.

Peter Haystead, Suffolk police's community relations inspector, said dealing with hate crime was a priority.

He said: “There are various initiatives which police have developed over the years to try to encourage people to report incidents.

“We have seen a general increase (in offences involving racism) but the British Crime Survey suggests that's down to people's confidence in reporting incidents rather than an increase in the number of offences.”

To report a hate crime, call freephone 0800 1381643, or 999 in an emergency.

Ipswich Evening Star

1 comment:

Sauf London Anti-Fascist said...

I guess this is expected (barring better reporting procedures) given that the BNP is aggressively targeting Suffolk. In areas that the BNP target with their mischief, racial violence and harassment goes up. I reproduce below Denise’s article on the BNP’s attempts to destabilise Suffolk:

Secret BNP meeting plans Suffolk campaign

Posted on April 6, 2007

(By Denise Garside)

Following a secret Bury St. Edmunds meeting attended by BNP chief Nick Griffin, the racist party has announced that it is to stand candidates for Forest Heath (west Suffolk) and Mid-Suffolk district councils in the May local elections.

According to his Chairman’s Blog, after this meeting Griffin has “the pleasure of a sensible, searching but essentially neutral interview” by a reporter for the Bury Free Press. Exactly how neutral can be judged here.

Rural Suffolk is hardly natural BNP territory, but three years ago the party caused a stir when it stood a by-election candidate in Suffolk Coastal District Council’s Yoxford ward. The BNP candidate, Paul Goodchild, won 15% of the vote in a bitter campaign that saw local celebrities come out against the party (story here).

It is worth noting that there was (and is) no notable ethnic minority presence in Yoxford, and that the BNP achieved its 15% share in spite of this and the well-publicised campaign against it.

West Suffolk is very different. The BNP intends to capitalise on the presence of large numbers of migrant workers who have settled there. Griffin tells the Bury Free Press that “eastern European immigrants have had an enormous impact on places like Thetford [in Norfolk] and Brandon”.

The BNP is unlikely to stand in more than a handful of Suffolk local authority wards, partly due to a lack of manpower, but also due to the widely noted fact that its own members seem to lack the courage of their alleged convictions and are unwilling to put themselves forward as BNP candidates.