50 racist incidents in Plymouth a day as hate crime increases 60 per cent

Plymouth has seen an increase of 60 per cent in “hate crime” in the past five years and now suffers an estimated 50 racist or religiously aggravated incidents every day, a new report claims.

The city is one of three areas identified as experiencing particularly high levels of racist attacks which were analysed for the study, The New Geographies of Racism. Official figure show that the number of racist incidents reported to police rose from 224 to 359 between 2005 and 2010. However, according to experts working with people from black, minority and ethnic (BME) groups, under-reporting of offences means the actual number is much higher.

Author John Burnett, from the Institute of Race Relations, said: “Some of these incidents have left people seriously injured, permanently scarred and in need of continuous medical treatment. Others have involved burning or attacking people’s homes, work, or places of worship and others still have been part of concerted attempts to force people to flee the city.”

The research was conducted via interviews with a cross-section of people working with racism and racial equality in Plymouth. It draws on experience with asylum seekers, refugees, migrant workers, gypsies and travellers, students and victims of racial violence.

Ann Wilkinson, co-director of the Plymouth and Devon Racial Equality Council, said the issues were “complex and difficult”, adding that racism was “more overt” in Plymouth than places like London. “It is a very good report and I hope that institutions in the South West will read it and take notice of some the difficulties faced by people who live here,” she added. “Racism is more overt here – that’s not a personal view but one from victims of hate crime – and there has been a rise in Islamophobia, which is a worrying trend we need to keep an eye on.”

Western Morning News, 21 July 2011