Race and hate crimes in Flintshire double over past 12 months
Attitudes towards people from different racial and religious backgrounds must change to avoid a return to the 1930s.
That was the stark warning from a leading Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic – BAME – community spearhead in Flintshire after it was revealed that race and hate crime in the county has doubled in just a year.
Shocking new figures show that during 2017/18 there were 123 reports of hate incidents, compared to 62 the previous year.
Meanwhile, the number of racially motivated crimes skyrocketed from 37 up to 84 and homophobic incidents rose by more than 300 per cent to 26.
The increase follows a spike in crime against people based on their race, nationality, religion or other factors across the UK following terrorist attacks at Manchester Arena, Westminster and London Bridge in 2017 and the EU referendum.
Flintshire councillor Gladys Healey, who became the authority’s first elected BAME member last year, described the figures as ‘deeply disturbing but not altogether surprising’.
She said: “The figures tie in with anecdotal evidence of a sharp change in attitudes following the EU referendum. I have seen the change in attitudes myself.
“The referendum result was the product of fears brought about by the Westminster government’s on-going austerity agenda.
“This has created fears and uncertainties which mean that people lash out at racial minorities.
“We are seeing minorities being used as scapegoats in the same way as during the 1930s.
“Austerity has created poverty, fear and hatred. Society is deeply divided and the government itself is imploding because of Brexit.
“It is all part of the same very worrying situation. It is necessary to learn the lessons of history and avoid what happened with the rise of fascism in the 1930s.”
A number of people in the county have appeared in court in Flintshire during the for racist offences during the quoted time period.
In May 2017 three Flintshire men were jailed for a racist attack on a Polish man.
Meanwhile, in December last year a former soldier was fined for racially abusing a taxi driver in Broughton.
And in March 2018 a man who used racist language towards two members of staff at a Mold convenience store received a suspended prison sentence.
A regional group has now been established to monitor hate crime figures and ensure measures are taken to identify hot spots.
However, a report set to be debated by councillors on Thursday also reveals that victim support staff have failed to deliver a single hate crime awareness session to employees in the last two years, and are looking to e-learning as an alternative.
The report states:
“The total number of reports of hate crime increased during 2016/17 and 2017/18.
There was a significant increase during 2017/18, specifically in the number of reports of racially motivated related hate crime.
The initiatives to promote reporting may have resulted in more people coming forward to report hate crime.
It is still felt that hate crime is under reported across North Wales; action will continue to encourage reporting.
There has also been an increased reporting of racist and religiously motivated hate crime nationally following terrorist attacks in the United Kingdom.”
By Liam Randall – Local Democracy Reporter.
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