One in five hate crimes closed with no suspect identified
PUBLISHED: 10:00 20 March 2019 | UPDATED: 10:44 20 March 2019
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One in five hate crimes in Norfolk are being closed without identifying a suspect, as forces have been urged to improve their response.
But Norfolk Police is performing well against other forces as they receive only a fraction of the number of hate crimes logged in other areas.
In Greater Manchester almost half of more than 5,000 reports in 12 months to September 2018 were closed with no suspect identified.
Officers in Norfolk logged just 411 reports in the same period.
The constabulary has said it had “good processes and proactive preventative work” to deal with hate crime and insist they understand the importance of delivering a “high quality response” to victims.
Control room staff are told to ask the question: “Do you think you have been targeted for who you are and what you believe”, to elicit potential hate crimes.
Hate Crime and Community Tension training is also being rolled out to officers.
“Hate related behaviour is a priority for Norfolk Constabulary,” the force said in a response to an HMICFRS inspection.
“The constabulary continues to develop its understanding of the link between hate incidents and crime.”
Offences defined as hate crimes include racially or religiously aggravated assault, harassment and criminal damage.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission described the national figures as “disappointing”, adding that victims of these offences often don’t report what has happened to them “as they feel that the police won’t take the incident seriously or have the power to act”.
Independent charity Victim Support warned the figures could undermine public confidence in the ability of the justice system to report hate crime.
Analysis compiled by the Press Association based on data published by the Home Office reveals that:
- A total of 28pc of all racially and religiously-aggravated offences recorded in England and Wales in the year to September 2018 were assigned the outcome “investigation complete - no suspect identified”. This is used when a reported crime has been investigated “as far as reasonably possible” and the case is closed pending further investigative opportunities.
- The total number of racially and religiously-aggravated offences recorded by police has reached a new high, with 57,652 recorded during this period across England and Wales - the largest number for any 12-month period since these categories of offence were established in April 2012.
The National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) told the Press Association that while any rise in hate crime was concerning, the latest figures also reflected success in improving the reporting of such offences.
National Police Chiefs Council Lead for Hate Crime, Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton, said: “Unfortunately, with many cases, there are often no witnesses to these crimes and scarce evidence - this may lead to police being unable to identify a suspect. “The police service has no tolerance for this type of abuse but we need to be made aware that crimes are taking place so that we can investigate - or better still, prevent them from happening.”
Rebecca Hilsenrath, chief executive at the Equality & Human Rights Commission, said it was vital that any potential hate crimes were reported to police to help ensure they were properly investigated and prosecuted.
“Attacking or harassing people is unacceptable in today’s society and it is shameful when carried out because of their identity. Police forces must collect accurate and comprehensive data so they can develop effective solutions to end hate crime in our society,” she said.
Diana Fawcett, chief officer at Victim Support, said the charity’s experience showed that those who suffer racially and religiously motivated hate crime can be “seriously impacted, both emotionally and physically”.
“The fact that such a large number of these cases are being closed with no suspect identified threatens to further undermine public confidence in the criminal justice system when it comes to reporting racially and religiously motivated hate crime,” she added.
The findings come after other reports suggesting hate crime is on the rise.
Analysis published last month by Jewish charity the Community Security Trust found that a record number of anti-Semitic hate incidents were reported in the UK in 2018, up 16pc on 2017.
A Home Office report in October 2018 showed all forms of police-recorded hate crime in England and Wales jumped by 17pc in 2017/18.