Hate crime on the rise in Hartlepool

Hartlepool Civic Centre.
Hartlepool Civic Centre.

Hartlepool experienced a spike in hate crimes over a 16 month period with the majority motivated by race.

From April 2015 to July this year, a total of 192 incidents were recorded by police, equating to one almost every other day.

Christopher Akers-Belcher. Picture by FRANK REID

Christopher Akers-Belcher. Picture by FRANK REID

Despite the rising trend, analysis for the Safer Hartlepool Partnership found hate crimes in Hartlepool dropped by a fifth during the EU referendum but rose slightly afterwards.

Almost three quarters of hate crimes over the 16-month period were said to be racially motivated.

That rose to 90% of all incidents around the time of the EU referendum between June 16 and 28.

Lisa Oldroyd, community safety team leader at Hartlepool Borough Council told a partnership meeting yesterday: “Whilst the majority of victims reported being subject to verbal abuse within the workplace environment such as convenience stores and takeaway restaurants, offences have also occurred in residential areas where victims have been subject to abuse or damage at their home address.”

It has a particularly harmful effect on its victims, as it seeks to attack an intrinsic part of who they are

Denise Ogden, Hartlepool Borough Council

The amount of hate crimes being reported equates to an average of 12 incidents a month.

Denise Ogden, Hartlepool Borough Council’s director of regeneration and neighbourhoods, said in a report: “It has a particularly harmful effect on its victims, as it seeks to attack an intrinsic part of who they are or who they are perceived to be: their race, religion, sexual orientation, disability or transgender identity.”

This summer the council removed a range of offensive graffiti and neo-fascist stickers from street furniture found close to places of worship and public buildings, including schools and libraries.

It led to the council and police issuing a statement of unity against such views.

Sarah Wilson from Police and Crime Commissioner’s office said pro-active work in Hartlepool around rehousing Syrain refugees had worked well with barely any problems compared to other parts of the force area.

She added all hate crime victims are offered support including directing to specialist groups such as Hart Gables in Hartlepool.

Partnership chair Councillor Christopher Akers-Belcher said Hartlepool was no different than anywhere else for hate crime.

He added: “Hopefully, by us issuing our statement of unity and also our next Face the Public event focussing on Islamophobia and hate crime, the community can get behind us in tackling it.”