Police in pledge to tackle hate crimes
HATE crimes targeting disabled people and minority ethnic groups have almost doubled in a year – and officers fear the true figure is much higher.
Staffordshire Police recorded 590 crimes motivated by racial, sexual and other kinds of prejudice between April and August – an increase of 48 per cent from 398 at the same time last year.
Disabled people are increasingly being targeted with a 120 per cent increase to 34 incidents so far this year.
Figures show there has been 244 hate crimes in Stoke-on-Trent since April, more than 40 per cent of all incidents, and 210 were linked to race.
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The figures were revealed at a meeting of Staffordshire Police Authority yesterday, where members called on the force to focus its efforts on victim support.
Members also urged officers to pay close attention to how many of the crimes are repeat offences.
It follows a damning report into Leicestershire Police's handling of the Fiona Pilkington affair.
The 38-year-old and her 18-year-old daughter Francecca Hardwick, who was disabled, died in 2007 when Ms Pilkington set fire to their car.
They had been terrorised by local youths for a decade and made dozens of complaints to police but received just eight visits from officers.
Authority member and equality expert Rosemary Crawley said: "We do not want a repeat of the Fiona Pilkington incident in Staffordshire.
"I would urge that the force monitors the extent to which these are repeat crimes, and identify these people for both support and visits."
Pam Bryan, from Weston Coyney, who is vice-chairman of Stoke-on-Trent District Disability Network, said: "It is certainly a cause for concern.
"Disabled people are quite obviously vulnerable and therefore some dreadful people will target them because they are an easy target.
"It is a sad reflection on society and I definitely agree that it needs to be taken seriously."
Staffordshire Police said the increases follow a campaign to persuade more people to come forward to discuss hate crimes.
Assistant Chief Constable Jane Sawyers said: "The number of hate crimes reported to us is increasing but we do still believe that too many hate crimes and incidents go unreported.
"If they're not reported, those responsible will never be challenged and could go on to re-offend.
"We have to put a stop to this and I would urge any victims of hate crime to have the confidence to contact us.
"Hate crimes reported to us will be investigated and treated with the utmost seriousness.
"We're committed to helping victims and wherever possible, dealing with reports in accordance with their wishes."