Rise in racism in parts of county
By Rebecca SheppardA LEADING councillor has warned of the threat of rural racism after the number of racist incidents rose in parts of the county.Suffolk county councillor Peter Monk, who is responsible for public protection, said he was disappointed at the latest figures that showed there were 176 reports of racism across the county between April and October – one more on the same period last year.
By Rebecca Sheppard
A LEADING councillor has warned of the threat of rural racism after the number of racist incidents rose in parts of the county.
Suffolk county councillor Peter Monk, who is responsible for public protection, said he was disappointed at the latest figures that showed there were 176 reports of racism across the county between April and October – one more on the same period last year.
But Mr Monk said the statistics showed the number of race-related incidents had been "significantly higher" in Waveney and Suffolk Coastal than in previous years.
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"There is a disappointment there, but we are also realistic that they are being reported and that is the main thing," he added.
"Before people were not reporting racist incidents. In the first instance, there may be a slight increase if they are reporting incidents and then at least we can deal with them.
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"However we noticed that incidents were not being reported in rural areas, where we were chasing around after the people who had been affected.
"There is often the worry in rural areas that there are people who are too frightened to come forward. Racism is hidden away in places where you least expect it."
The figures showed there had been 31 incidents in Waveney, nine more than last year, 19 in Suffolk Coastal, seven more than the same period in 2002, and nine in Mid Suffolk, five more than last year.
Although the number of reported incidents in Ipswich dropped by 11 this year, it was still the borough with the highest occurrences of racism with 77 reported incidents.
The figures for Babergh, Forest Heath and St Edmundsbury showed the number of incidents reported had dropped slightly.
Most of the incidents recorded across the region consisted of abuse, assault and harassment, but there were also 10 instances of criminal damage and a further 10 of other serious offences.
A total of 67 people said they had repeatedly been the victims of racial attacks, with Christians and Muslims the most targeted religions.
Mr Monk said: "It is not a big problem in Suffolk compared to other counties. The county council's racial harassment initiative covers both urban and rural areas and encourages a multi-cultural society where people respect one another."