Hate crimes soar with three reports a day to police in the county
Hate crimes have soared in Suffolk in the past two years with three reports a day now coming in to police in the county.
The figures, obtained by this newspaper through a Freedom of Information request, show how from 2015 to 2017 there was a 115% increase in reports of hate crimes to police.
There were 252 reports from April to October 2015 compared with 541 in the same period in 2017.
Incidents peaked in July 2017 with 93 that month. It followed the terror attacks in Manchester and London in May and June.
In October 2017, the last month figures are available for, there were 77 reports.
Franstine Jones, from Suffolk Police, said officers had worked hard to raise awareness of what a hate crime was; meaning police were now getting more reports.
“A lot of communities don’t recognise it as hate crime,” she said. “If someone calls them a name they just think they are being horrible without realising that is a crime.”
Once reported to police, hate crimes are ranked on a level of seriousness and if there is any harm caused, Ms Jones said victims would be visited by a police officer.
The biggest hate crime reports are to do with race and religion followed by disability and sexual orientation.
Reports of racial hate crimes have fallen in the last two years but disability and sexual orientation hate crimes have increased.
There was also a spike in reports after the Brexit referendum in June 2016, which prompted Ipswich Borough councillors to speak out against hate crimes.
There were reports of European students at schools being told to “go home”.
The areas with the biggest increases in hate crimes are Ipswich East, Felixstowe and Woodbridge and Lowestoft.
Figures released in October last year also showed attacks on mosques had increased in Suffolk and Essex from March to June 2017.
An arson attack took place in January last year at the Al Falah Braintree Islamic Centre.
Kashif Ahmad, imam at the centre, said: “We need to talk to one another and understand what we all stand for.”