Rise in racist abuse in Highlands condemned by police, politicians and NHS

Highland Council's HQ. Picture: Peter Jolly
Highland Council's HQ. Picture: Peter Jolly
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HIGHLAND Council, Northern Constabulary, and NHS Highland today united in condemning those responsible for a rise in racist abuse and other hate crimes in the area.

• 92 racially motivated crimes in Highlands last year, up from 68 in previous year

• Report on hate crime due to go before Highland Council committee next Wednesday

A new report on Hate Incidents and Hate Crime, to go before the council’s Community Safety, Public Engagement and Equalities Committee next Wednesday has revealed that the number of racially motivated crimes in the Highlands has risen from 68 to 92 over the past year with a detection rate of 93.48 per cent.

A large percentage of the hate crimes were racially motivated and 92 per cent involved alcohol as a contributory factor, with many of the incidents aimed at take-away workers or taxi-drivers.

Chief Superintendent Julian Innes of Northern Constabulary, condemned all incidents of hate crime. He said: “It is completely unacceptable to verbally abuse those who live and work in our communities and provide a valuable service to us. Racial abuse simply will not be tolerated and we will continue to take a robust approach to such reported incidents.”

Councillor Drew Millar, the chairman of the community safety committee, said: “This is an important issue for the Committee to consider. I agree fully with Chief Superintendent Innes that hate incidents weaken society and are bad for the whole community and not only for those who experience them. It’s everyone’s job to challenge discriminatory behaviour, especially when it goes unreported to the Police. We are also considering separate reports on domestic abuse and Gypsy/Travellers at the meeting. After the committee Councillors will be meeting with People First and the Health and Happiness to hear how it feels to live in the Highlands with a learning disability and I expect we will be hearing about the name calling, harassment and bullying they face. We have heard before about the damaging effect on people of homophobic incidents. This behaviour is just not acceptable.”

Moira Paton of NHS Highland said ”We know that many hate incidents are never reported, and in particular, have concerns over the rate of unreported disability related hate incidents. For people with learning disabilities, in particular, bullying and harassment is a serious concern. We would urge people to report all hate incidents.”

A council spokesman stressed: “The Highlands and Islands remain one of the safest places to live and work in the UK. Crime is low and detection rates are very high. Although there are few incidents involving Hate Crime, it is widely recognised that they tend to be under-reported and people are encouraged to report such incidents to the police.”