Yesterday, the Police Service of Northern Ireland in conjunction with Belfast City Council launched a campaign urging members of the public not to turn their backs on the hate crimes that are being committed across the city.
Evidence suggests that only a fifth of hate crime is being reported to the police. The new billboard and video campaign is funded by the city council and aims to encourage both victims and witnesses of hate crime to report it.
Recent operational policing figures suggest that confidence in reporting incidents is growing, with recorded incidents for the period 1 April – 9 November 2013 compared to the same period the previous year showing:
- 86.9% increase in the number of recorded racist incidents in Belfast; (215 incidents FYTD compared with 115 incidents PFYTD)
- 47% increase in the number of recorded homophobic incidents in Belfast; (50 incidents FYTD compared with 34 incidents PFYTD)
- 36.3% increase in the number of recorded sectarian incidents in Belfast; (259 incidents FYTD compared with 190 incidents PFYTD).
Only this evening, I was discussing with a number of friends the fact that hate crimes are going unreported. A number of reasons were suggested including a lack of confidence in the Police Service. However, I hope that this campaign will help ensure that all who are affected do report the crime to the police, and will be confident that the crime will be investigated. I know from past experience that the Police have been helpful both to me and my husband, Andrew.
It is not just up to the victim of a crime to report it, for as Chief Inspector Gabriel Moran said,
“It is important that reporting takes place when an incident occurs so that evidential opportunities can be maximised. For anyone who may be a witness to a hate crime incident they are also being encouraged to play an active part by providing statements etc so that perpetrators of such crimes can be brought before the courts and successful prosecutions secured.”
The campaign is being funded by the European Union’s European Regional Development Fund via the Peace III Plan. Further information can be found on the Belfast City Council website.