Belfast Telegraph

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

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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