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500 race hate reports to police in last six months in Northern Ireland

By Allan Preston

Published 10/10/2016

Concerned: Patrick Yu
Concerned: Patrick Yu

More than 500 race hate incidents in Northern Ireland were reported to police in the last six months, new figures reveal.

A total of 350 were also recorded as racist offences - around two every day.

That represents a slight drop from last year, when 1,356 race hate incidents were reported and 921 recorded as offences over a 12-month period - a rate of just over 2.5 per day.

Patrick Yu of the Northern Ireland Council for Ethnic Minorities (NICEM) said despite the apparent improvement, many incidents still went unchallenged.

"The politicians always like figures, going up or going down. But in any incident or crime there is a victim," he stated.

"Low level intimidation or language abuse - there's often no prospect of justice at all.

"We support what the police are doing to highlight the issue. But it's not just their duty, they can't prevent everything.

"People carrying out these attacks have no understanding about ethnic minorities."

Last week there was outrage when a video emerged of three schoolboys in Antrim taunting and throwing stones at a woman from Romania.

"The most sensible thing in the whole incident was the parents," said Mr Yu.

"They said they would bring them to the victim's house and make them apologise.

"For me, that's already a very good model for other parents. We need to promote that good understanding to restore the confidence of victims."

He also called on the First and deputy First Ministers to take a more pro-active role: "In Scotland, the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, she put out a public letter to welcome migrants. We need to see the First and deputy First Minister doing the same."

As part of Hate Crime Awareness Week, the PSNI has launched a video narrated by a victim, telling of the personal impact of racial hate crime and discrimination and the shattering effect on her life.

PSNI Superintendent Paula Hilman said: "Behind each of these statistics is a victim. We want people to stop, think and consider the impact their actions can have on individuals' lives."

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