Increase in hate crime across Devon and Cornwall

Police

Police - Credit: Archant

New figures from the Office for National Statistics shows a nine per cent increase in hate crimes being recorded in the UK in the past year.

The UK recorded 114,958 hate crimes in England and Wales for the year ending March 2021. 

Devon and Cornwall Police recorded 1,150 race crimes, 357 sexual orientation crimes, 255 disability hate crimes, and 71 transgender hate crimes. This is an increase of 3 per cent from 2019.

While increases in hate crime over the last five years have been mainly driven by improvements in crime recording by the police, there have been spikes in hate crime following certain events such as the EU Referendum and the terrorist attacks in 2017. 

Alison Hernandez, Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, said: “While it is disappointing to see a rise in recorded hate crime in my force area it does mean people have a greater understanding of what constitutes a hate crime and feel confident that they are able to report it. 

“Levels of understanding about these crimes, which if left to fester can escalate in their seriousness, remains a significant challenge to UK policing. The response people will get if they report a hate crime has improved significantly over the years. My new police and crime plan will build upon this work with a zero-tolerance approach to hate in our communities.” 

Hate crimes first started being recorded by forces in 2011. The rates show a steady progression in people coming forward to report the crimes to the police over the past three years. 

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The police and Crown Prosecution Service define a “hate incident” and a “hate crime”  

A hate incident is if the victim or anyone else think it was motivated by hostility or prejudice based on one of the following things: race, disability, religion or sexuality. It could be things like name calling, bullying or physical attacks such as hitting or punching. All of these things should be reported to the police, however petty they may seem.  

On the Citizens Advice website, they say if you are a victim of any type of hate crime you should report it straight to your local police.  

The law on hate crimes, from the Crown Prosecution Service says any crime can be prosecuted as a hate crime if the offender has either: demonstrated hostility based on race, religion, disability, sexual orientation or transgender identity. Or been motivated by hostility.  

These crimes are covered by legislation (Crime and Disorder Act 1998 and section 66 of the Sentencing Act 2020) which allows prosecutors to apply for an uplift in sentence for those convicted of a hate crime. 

The police and the CPS have agreed the following definition for identifying and flagging hate crimes: 

"Any criminal offence which is perceived by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by hostility or prejudice, based on a person's disability or perceived disability; race or perceived race; or religion or perceived religion; or sexual orientation or perceived sexual orientation or transgender identity or perceived transgender identity." 

There is no legal definition of hostility so we use the everyday understanding of the word which includes spite, contempt, prejudice, unfriendliness or dislike. 

More information is available, including what defines a hate crime and hate incidents, on the Citizens Advice website

If you feel your life is in immediate danger as a result from a hate crime, call 999. You can log a compliant on the Devon and Cornwall Police website at https://www.devon-cornwall.police.uk/reporthc 

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