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Number of racist and religion related crimes rising in Lancashire

THE number of racially and religiously aggravated offences recorded by Lancashire Police has increased year-on-year, new figures show.

The figures are from police-recorded crime data published by the Home Office and cover five types of offences, all of which have a specific racially or religiously motivated element defined by statute.

According to the Home Office, “these racially or religiously aggravated offences are by definition hate crimes”.

The five offences are:

  • Racially or religiously aggravated assault without injury
  • Racially or religiously aggravated assault without injury
  • Racially or religiously aggravated harassment
  • Racially or religiously aggravated criminal damage
  • Racially or religiously aggravated public fear, alarm or distress

Of the 43 forces who provided data, Lancashire were one of 33 to report a rise in racially or religiously aggravated offences from 2019 to 2020.

In 2019, Lancashire Police recorded 1,099 racially or religiously aggravated offences and 1,186 the following year – an increase of 8 per cent.

Of those 1,186 offences last year, 348 (29 per cent) were assigned the outcome “investigation complete – no suspect identified”.

Across the UK last year, there were 61,851 racially or religiously aggravated offences – a 7 per cent rise on the 57,825 in 2019 – with 16,507 (27 per cent) being assigned the outcome “investigation complete – no suspect identified”.

The impact of the coronavirus lockdown, along with protests supporting the Black Lives Matter movement, were two of the main factors named by forces as helping to drive the increase in offences, along with improved recording of hate crimes.

Independent charity Victim Support called the figures “shocking” and said it was “huge cause for concern that so many cases are left unsolved”, while the Equality and Human Rights Commission warned that although the police had taken “positive steps” in the recording of hate crime, “more still needs to be done to improve the process and the quality of support for victims”.

The National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) said forces had worked hard to improve their handling of hate crime, including better recording of offences, adding: “We are working with forces to help them understand and improve the service they provide to victims.”

The figures cover all forces in England and Wales except Greater Manchester Police, who were unable to provide full data from July 2019 to March 2020.

The data shows that the Metropolitan Police recorded the highest number of these offences in 2020 (15,101; up 7% from 14,051 in 2019), followed by West Midlands (5,115; up 23% from 4,145) and West Yorkshire (4,627; down 1% from 4,681).

A spokesperson for the Met said the outbreak of Covid-19 had a “direct impact” on levels of hate crime in the capital, with “a rise in reports of racially aggravated hate crime incidents, both on and offline, where certain communities were targeted due to the pandemic”.

At the start of the coronavirus outbreak in the spring of 2020, there was a rise in the number of victims identifying as Chinese or south-east Asian where police were able to detect a link to Covid-19 in the nature of the offence, according to the NPCC – although this trend did not persist throughout the year.