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Northern Ireland: Amnesty International concern at hate crime figures

Amnesty International has expressed concern at “worryingly high” figures for hate crimes and incidents in Northern Ireland. The figures come in a report just published by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) for the year ending June 30 2016.

The report shows that there were 1,333 racist incidents and 785 racist crimes recorded by the police in the last twelve months, a slight decrease on the previous year, but still one of the years with the highest recorded figures since the start of police records in 2004.

In addition, there were 1,208 sectarian incidents and 874 sectarian crimes, as well as 324 incidents and 201 crimes with a homophobic motivation.

The PSNI report shows that only 19.2% of racism motivated crimes resulted in “crime outcomes”, such as a prosecution or police warning.

Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty International’s Northern Ireland Programme Director, said:

“These hate crime figures are worryingly high. Overall, there are eight hate-motivated incidents or crimes reported to the police every day in Northern Ireland.

“Three times a day there is a racism-motivated incident or crime – almost as high as the figures for incidents motivated by sectarianism, despite the relatively small numbers of people in Northern Ireland from ethnic minorities or from other countries. The police figures show that fewer than one in five racist crimes result in any specific outcome, suggesting that over 80% of such hate crimes result in no prosecution or even warning for the offender.

“Homophobic hate crime remains disturbingly high with figures almost identical to those of the last two years, the highest ever recorded by the police. Attacks on premises such as Orange Halls have grown, an ugly trend which must be ended.

“We welcome the publication of these figures by the PSNI and the slight decrease in some forms of hate crime they show. But overall the response must be of huge concern given that almost 3,000 such incidents were recorded by the police last year.”

In June Amnesty International announced a new campaign to address hate crimes with a focus on racist and xenophobic abuse in the UK.

Note: PSNI report available here - ‘Incidents and Crimes with a Hate Motivation Recorded by the Police in Northern Ireland: Quarterly Update to 30 June 2016’

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