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A race hate crime happens every three hours in Northern Ireland, depressing new PSNI figures reveal

Meanwhile sex offences are up 22.4%

By Michael McHugh and Claire Cromie

Published 12/05/2015

Hate crime: Racist graffiti attack in Bloomfield Drive
Hate crime: Racist graffiti attack in Bloomfield Drive
A house on Monarch Street in south Belfast which was daubed with racist graffiti
There has been a surge in attacks on ethnic minorities across Belfast, according to latest PSNI figures
Hounded out: Ashraful Alam with his two daughters, aged seven and four, after louts smashed his window and torched his next door neighbour's car in Ulsterville Avenue, south Belfast
Racist graffiti appeared on gable walls near Chobham Street and at a junction of Elmdale Street and Bately Street.
Frightened children are among the Romanian families forced to flee from racist attacks in south Belfast
Hate crime: a car damaged in Bray Street
Racial attacks have been on the increase in Belfast
A man paints over racist graffiti on his house in the Donegore Gardens area of west Belfast. Picture: Kevin Scott
The house at Hesketh Park which had its front window smashed in a racist attack
Racist graffiti appeared on gable walls near Chobham Street and at a junction of Elmdale Street and Bately Street.
Sectarian and racist graffiti on the Catholic church in Dungannon, Co Tyrone, is removed by a parishioner
The windows of two houses in Bloomfield Avenue and Chobham Street were smashed overnight. Paint was also thrown over the second property.
Trader Musa Gulusen, who was assaulted in a racist attack on Wednesday, pictured at his stall on Royal Avenue in Belfast city centre
Muhammad Asif Khattak clears up after his north Belfast home was targeted by racists
Hate crimes: Victims of racist attacks in Belfast

A racist hate crime was reported every three hours on a typical day in Northern Ireland last year.

The number of incidents increased by a third, with assaults and threats to kill among the offences.

The PSNI says increased confidence in the force may have encouraged victims to report the problem, but that further work is required.

Compared with the previous year there were increases across all but one of the six hate incident types recorded in 2014/15 - racist incidents increased by 374 from 982 to 1,356 and racist crimes increased by 230 from 691 to 921.

The service said: "Historically, hate crime has been under-reported, and while an increase in reporting is a challenge for PSNI, it may also be an indicator of increased confidence in policing."

This year's Northern Ireland Policing Plan aims to boost reporting of hate crime by 3% so this figure is likely to increase next year, police said.

The Polish government has expressed concern at an upsurge in racist attacks against citizens living in Northern Ireland.

Honorary consul Jerome Mullen accused Stormont's political leaders of not doing enough to tackle the problem.

Last month five people were arrested within a short period by officers probing racist and sectarian hate crime in Belfast, including alleged assaults and threats to kill.

Overall crime increased by 2.3%, which comes amid budget cuts to policing and a warning from Chief Constable that lives would be at risk because of the financial crisis.

Sex offences soared by 22.4%.

Violent crime is up 5.7% and drugs offences have increased by 6.7%.

Crimes across Northern Ireland rose from 102,746 in 2013/14 to 105,072 in 2014/15, 57 per 1,000 population, compared with a level of 84 per 1,000 population when crime was at its height in 2002/03.

The downwards trend over the last 12 years has involved robbery, burglary, vehicle offences and criminal damage, while sexual or violence offences have shown an upward trend, police said.

Alcohol contributed to 43% of cases of violence, they said.

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