Suffolk coast leaders tackling “unacceptable” hate crimes as 200 recorded in three months

Steve Gallant, Suffolk Coastal district councillor. Picture: PAUL NIXON/SUFFOLK COASTAL

Steve Gallant, Suffolk Coastal district councillor. Picture: PAUL NIXON/SUFFOLK COASTAL - Credit: Archant

Public leaders on the Suffolk coast have said that the presence of hate crimes is “completely unacceptable” after 200 were recorded across south and east Suffolk in just three months.

Crime statistics presented to Suffolk Coastal District Council’s scrutiny committee on Wednesday revealed that for the three months of October to the end of December there were 200 hate crimes or incidents reported to officers.

Among the key areas were Felixstowe, Saxmundham and Leiston.

Steve Gallant, Suffolk Coastal’s cabinet member for community health, said: “There has been a rise across the country but in Suffolk as a whole, and especially in Suffolk Coastal, this sort of crime is still very, very rare.

“However, it is still completely unacceptable and we don’t want this in our communities.”

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The committee said incidents included those that were racially motivated, as well as targeting people because of disabilities, religion, or sexual orientation.

Mr Gallant said that they were encouraging people to report these incidents, and added that more questions were being asked.

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He said: “We suspect it was a hidden problem but one of the reasons we believe they have been going up nationally and in Suffolk is that people are more comfortable in reporting it, and also that the various agencies working with these [victims] specifically ask questions about this issue.”

While most of the incidents were still recorded in the bigger towns such as Ipswich and Lowestoft, there were concerns that in rural communities the support networks for victims were not as visible as in urban areas.

A Suffolk police spokesman said: “We take every incident of hate crime very seriously – no incident is seen as trivial and every report is investigated thoroughly.

“Hate crime is a menace to society and can have a devastating and often life changing impact on the victim. We work hard to raise awareness of what a hate crime is, meaning we now receive more reports. We want victims to be confident in coming forward, and we regularly review our overall response to hate crime, to continue to improve our work with communities.

“For every recorded crime and incident, we can support the victim, look to bring a perpetrator to justice and prevent future re-offending. We can only do this when victims and witnesses report incidents, and we would urge anyone experiencing hate crime to give details to the police or to any third party reporting agencies across the county.”

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