Northumbria Police sees rise in hate crimes as force prepares to appoint new chief constable
Rising levels of hate crimes are due to be among the issues on the desk of the new chief constable for Northumbria Police.
The force is preparing to appoint a replacement for incumbent Winton Keenan, with Vanessa Jardine, the current deputy chief constable at West Midlands Police, expected to be approved for the top job on Tuesday (December 13).
A decision on who will take over the force’s most senior position is due to be made as new figures show reports of hate crimes in the North East have increased yet again, with hundreds of abusive attacks based on the victim’s race.
A total of 3,663 hate crimes were reported to Northumbria Police, with other attacks targeting the victim’s sexuality, disability or religious views.
According to the annual report of the office for the Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, the 12 months up to August 2022 saw a 5% increase on 3,481 incidents reported over the previous year.
The only category for which the number of hate crimes fell were those targeting people’s faith, which decreased slightly compared to last year.
Complaints based on gender showed the biggest single rise, but by more than 150%, but from a previously low base.
Race accounted for the greatest number of incidents overall, but also showed the smallest increase.
According to the PCC’s report, victims of hate crimes have criticised Northumbria Police for the length of time it takes to investigate, while some also claimed they were not kept informed during investigations.
Overall victim satisfaction with the police’s handling of hate crimes has dropped, from 81% in 2021, to 74% this year.
In the report, Northumbria PCC Kim McGuinness said: “There are always some people who want to incite hatred and that is completely unacceptable - I want all victims to feel listened to, regardless of background.
“I recognise the importance of reaching out to those communities who are perhaps uncomfortable contacting the police.
"The Chief Constable and I are committed to doing all we can to strengthen relationships with all communities and we will continue striving to recruit from a diverse range of backgrounds to better reflect the communities we serve.”
Superintendent Claire Wheatley, of Northumbria Police’s harm reduction department, said: “When someone is targeted simply because of who they are and what they believe in, that is a hate crime.
“Reports of hate crimes have risen nationally every year since records began in 2012, and we believe that is largely down to an increase in information and knowledge around what constitutes a hate crime, as well as an increase in confidence in reporting offences.
“We will continue to work hard to build on the relationships we have with the wonderfully diverse communities we are proud to serve and be a part of here in the North East to further increase this confidence. We would urge anyone who has been the victim of a hate crime to come forward.”
Suspected hate crimes can be reported via the Tell Us Something page of the force’s website or by calling 101.
Suspected hate incidents for the 12 months to August 2022, by category:
*Race: 2,110 (+3%)*Faith: 217 (-4%)*Disability: 472 (+14%)*Gender: 41 (+156%)*Age: 12 (+33%)*Homophobic: 698 (+11%)*Transphobic: 109 (14%)