Fall in the number of ‘hate’ crimes in Lancashire

Stock picture of a police officer on the beat to go with story about levels of fitness among Lancashire police officers

Stock picture of a police officer on the beat to go with story about levels of fitness among Lancashire police officers

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A fall in the number of hate crimes being reported to police in Lancashire has prompted campaigners to urge more victims to come forward.

New figures show there were hundreds of offences motivated by race, religion, disability, sexual orientation or gender identity last year.

But while campaigners say the official figures make up only a fraction of the total number of incidents, Home Office data suggests hate crime fell from 1,064 recorded cases in 2013/14 to 881 last year.

Disability hate crime campaigner Stephen Brookes, said the figures do not mean there are fewer crimes being committed.

Mr Brookes, coordinator for the Disability Hate Crime Network and ambassador for Disability Rights UK, said: “We want to see these reports increasing. We have got to convince people it’s in their interests to report abuse.

“The more people report it, the more police are aware of disability hate crime.”

Official figures show there 93 hate crimes targeted at disabled people in Lancashire last year – but Mr Brookes said the true figure is likely to be ‘nearer to 500’.

He added: “Being disabled, you don’t have to accept it. We have got to change that attitude.”

Back in September, The Gazette revealed a sharp rise in hate crime on the Fylde coast, where hundreds of cases are reported each year.

In 2014, there were 294 racially motivated incidents alone on the Fylde coast, of which 215 were in Blackpool, a nine per cent increase on the previous year.

Of those incidents, 121 were classed as crimes – 83 of them in Blackpool.

Figures released under the Freedom of Information Act, covering the 12 months up to the end of October, show nine of the 806 recorded hate crime involved ‘serious’ injury. A further 98 involved minor injuries.

However, the figure may be higher as injury details were not recorded in more than half of incidents.

A Lancashire Police spokesman said: “We encourage anyone who believes they are a victim of a hate incident or crime to come forward and report it. Behaviour of this type is not to be tolerated and will be taken extremely seriously by ourselves and Crown Prosecution Service.”