Hate crime drastically under-reported - South Wales Police

By Colette Hume
BBC News

image captionCh Insp Joe Jones said South Wales Police was working to remove barriers potentially blocking hate crime reports

Hate crime is still drastically under-reported, South Wales Police has said.

It follows official figures released last month showing the number of hate crimes across England and Wales rose by 29% in 2016-17.

A Home Office report said the biggest rise was in disability and transgender hate crimes, but said the increase was mainly due to better crime recording.

South Wales Police said it was "more important than ever" that communities reported issues.

Hate crimes are those committed against people or property involving disability, ethnicity, sexual orientation and gender identity, among other issues.

The Home Office report noted a spike in hate crime around the time of the EU referendum, as well as after the Westminster Bridge, Manchester Arena and London Bridge attacks this year.

South Wales Police is looking for new ways to encourage communities to report such crimes.

Ch Insp Joe Jones, of the force's Cardiff Communities and Partnerships, said: "Historically, there are barriers to getting people from minority communities to actually have trust and confidence in the police and report things.

"And clearly, in terms of reduced resources, for us to be intelligence-led, and clever in how we deploy our resources, we need to know where the problems are.

"So we need, more than ever really, for communities to report the issues they are suffering with."

Amal Beyrouty, of Cardiff-based charity Women Connect First, said some victims were often "not ready" to report crime because "they think they will not be heard or their voices are not important".

She said: "First, there is the language barrier they feel they can't do anything if they report to the police and maybe they can't express themselves properly.

"There is also a cultural barrier because, if they ask any member of their family, they will be told off."

'Angry and frightened'

Four years ago, Aziza [not her real name] moved from Egypt to Wales.

She said both she and her 18-year-old daughter had suffered repeated verbal and even physical abuse, including someone trying to remove her hijab, which she did not report.

"I felt angry, I felt frightened, I felt scared, it was not comfortable for me," she added.

"And for my daughter too, she says, 'I don't like the area, I don't want to live here'."

image captionSouth Wales Police runs a cookery competition between officers and women in Cardiff to build community links

South Wales Police called on hate crime victims to come forward, saying those who do would be treated with dignity, sympathy and respect.

One scheme it has set up involves a cooking competition between officers and women in Cardiff.

Ch Insp Jones said: "I think it would be naive of me to sit here and say we've got an accurate picture of what is reported, but clearly there's a need for the community to work with us in that area.

"This is a great initiative to try to reduce some of those barriers, so hopefully we can continue to improve the access to police [and] the visibility, so that people have got the confidence to come and tell us what's going on."

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