Shocking rise in racist incidents

THE number of racist incidents recorded in Suffolk has leapt by 670% in the past eight years, new figures reveal.Data published by the Home Office yesterday shows 417 racist incidents were recorded in the county during 2004-5 compared to just 54 in 1997-8.

By Danielle Nuttall

THE number of racist incidents recorded in Suffolk has leapt by 670% in the past eight years, new figures reveal.

Data published by the Home Office yesterday shows 417 racist incidents were recorded in the county during 2004-5 compared to just 54 in 1997-8.

But the figure was lower than in the neighbouring counties of Essex (1,003), Norfolk (421) and Cambridgeshire (794).


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Police say the rise in Suffolk is due to people having more confidence in reporting racist allegations to the police.

A spokesman for the force said last night: “Suffolk Constabulary will not tolerate racism in any shape or form and we take reports of racist incidents or crimes extremely seriously.

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“We believe the figures show that people are more willing now to come forward to report these incidents to the police and partner agencies than perhaps has been the case in the past and we think it reflects a growing confidence in the police.

“We are working continually to strengthen links with all our communities and this will be further enhanced next month when a new type of police officer training is introduced in the county which will see constables being trained within the communities where they will serve and forging local contacts at a very early stage instead of being sent to training centres outside East Anglia.”

Harold Mangar, a member of Suffolk Police Authority, was sceptical of the accuracy of the Home Office's figures, but he said: “We have put into place more robust recording of incidents and we believe the communities are having more confidence in the police service.

“We are strengthening the links with various communities that are living in Suffolk and becoming more diverse than we were in 1997 because of the people coming in from Eastern Europe.”

Joanna Spicer, Suffolk County Council portfolio holder for public protection and community safety, said the rise in incidents recorded last year might bear some relation to the London bombings and a small backlash locally.

“Every single racist incident we are aware of is taken very seriously. Although those figures may seem alarming, I hope it reflects more confidence that in reporting incidents because they are being taken seriously,” she said.

“We need to work together with the police and public agencies to reduce racist behaviour in Suffolk. We should bring more prosecutions where possible.”

Nationally, the number of racist incidents recorded in England and Wales jumped by 12% to more than 59,000 last year.

There was also a 14% rise year-on-year in the number of stops and searches carried out by police officers - totalling 838,726 in the last 12 months.

As with previous years, black people were six times more likely to be stopped and searched than whites and Asian people were twice as likely to be stopped and searched.

Among these, 32,086 searches were made under the controversial Section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000, an increase of 9%.

But the period - which pre-dates the July 7 suicide attacks - saw a 5% fall in the number of stops and searches of Asian people under terrorism powers from 3,668 to 3,494.

The data also revealed that police recorded more than 37,000 racially or religiously aggravated offences in the year - up 6%.

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