Help Offered To Tackle Hate Crime

People in Northern Ireland at risk from hate crime are being offered extra protection – including personal and home alarms and 24-hour access to the police – as part of a government initiative responding to alarming rises in such incidents.

Attacks on immigrants, including petrol bombs thrown into homes, have highlighted what has become a growing problem. A spokesman for the Northern Ireland Office says the new measures, collectively known as the Hate Incidents Practical Actions project, are designed to offer “protection and reassurance” to people who feel threatened or who have been victims of hate crime.

Those affected will be encouraged to report incidents, and the police will be responsible for assessing which measures best suit the individual concerned.

The authorities in Northern Ireland have been struggling to tackle the issue as the volume of attacks has risen year on year. While large numbers of sectarian hate crimes (1,470 were recorded in 2005/06) have been the norm for many years, recent increases in incidents and crimes related to race and homophobia in particular have led to calls from community groups for a fresh approach.

The latest available figures from the Police Service Northern Ireland show that race hate incidents rose by 15.1% in 2005/06 to 936, and racially motivated hate crimes jumped by 17.1% to a total of 746. Homophobic incidents have also risen, up 12.2% to 220, despite a 2% decline in recorded homophobic crimes.