Hate crime up 28 per cent across West Midlands
Hate crime in the West Midlands has increased by 28 per cent over the past three years, according to new figures.
Sandwell saw the number of reported incidents surge by 42 per cent, while it is also up by 29 per cent in Walsall, 24 per cent in Wolverhampton, and 22 per cent in Dudley.
The figures were today branded as 'unacceptable' by the Liberal Democrats, who obtained the data using the Freedom on Information Act.
A hate crime is defined as any criminal offence motivated by hostility or prejudice because of the victim's religion, race, nationality, sexual orientation, disability, or gender.
The data supplied by West Midlands Police shows that last year there were 423 reports of racist hate crime in Sandwell, compared to 296 in 2014/15.
Wolverhampton and Walsall were similar with 324 and 329 incidents last year, compared to 260 and 259 three years ago.
While in Dudley there were 211 reports, up from 172.
Ian Jenkins, of the Wolverhampton Liberal Democrats, said: “Hate Crime is an evil cancer at the heart of our society and we must do more to combat it. I am very concerned that people in Black Country are facing abuse and intimidation because of their religion or ethnicity. These figures should send a shiver down the spine. It's totally unacceptable.
“What worries me most about the hate crime figures are the assaults and abuse that are not recorded. People must feel safe to come forward and the police must do more to stamp out this terrible crime."
Overall in the West Midlands there were 3,450 hate incidents last year – up from 2,677 in 2014/15.
Asians were the most targeted across the West Midlands, with nearly 4,000 incidents reported to police.
Black people and white 'northern Europeans' were the next highest targeted group, both with nearly 2,000 incidents over the period.
The number of hate crimes in England and Wales has increased by 29 per cent over the past year, according to Home Office statistics.
There were 80,393 offences in 2016/17, compared with 62,518 in 2015/16 – the largest increase since the Home Office began recording figures in 2011/12.
A report by the Home Office notes a spike in hate crime around the time of the EU referendum, and the Westminster Bridge, Manchester Arena and London Bridge terrorist attacks this year.
Home Secretary Amber Rudd said there was 'absolutely no place for hate crime in our society' and said the rise after 2017's terror attacks were 'undoubtedly concerning'.
The Home Office report said: "The increase over the last year is thought to reflect both a genuine rise in hate crime around the time of the EU referendum and following the Westminster Bridge terrorist attack, as well as ongoing improvements in crime reporting by police."
Police say they are getting better at recording hate crimes.