Northern Ireland

Belfast racist hate crime figures up 43%

Racist graffiti
Image caption The police launched a specialist operation last May to tackle hate crime

Police in Belfast have recorded a 43% increase in racist hate crimes in the space of eight months.

The PSNI's Operation Reiner was set up last May to tackle the growing problem of hate crime in Northern Ireland.

In the period to the end of January 2015, 383 racially motivated offences were recorded across the city; in the same period the previous year, 268 offences were recorded.

A third of offences recorded last year in the city were in east Belfast.

  • In the east of the city, racially motivated offences rose from 74 between 1 May 2013 and 30 January 2014 to 128 in the same eight months in the following year, a 73% increase
  • In west Belfast, recorded offences rose from 17 to 29, a 70% increase
  • North Belfast saw an increase from 72 to 101, a 40% rise
  • In south Belfast, recorded offences rose from 105 to 125, a 19% increase

The figures come as police in north Belfast continue to investigate what they described as a racially motivated hate crime.

'Collective responsibility'

A group of men attacked two houses and threatened residents at Mountcollyer Avenue in the Tiger's Bay area on Monday. A Polish woman living in one of the houses said she did not feel safe there.

ACC Chris Noble said racist hate crimes account for a small percentage of overall crime, but officers recognised there is a "significant impact on the victim which can also have implications for the wider community".

"A hate crime affects not only the victim but every member of the group that the victim represents," he said.

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Media captionPastor Brian Madden appealed for those carrying out the attacks to stop

He said police were working with a range of groups to enhance victim support and encourage greater levels of reporting, "but policing can only be as successful as the information and support we receive from the wider community".

"There is a collective responsibility on everyone in Northern Ireland to make sure that people who choose to come to live and work here from different countries and cultures, who add value to Northern Irish society and economy, feel reassured and protected," he said.

"We need communities to give us information about who might be involved in racist hate crime to ensure that we investigate these crimes as thoroughly as possible."