RACIST incidents have risen by 10 per cent in Scotland, despite crime being at a 37-year low, new figures have revealed.
• Crime figures have fallen by three per cent in last 12 months
• Incidents of racism and domestic abuse up by 10 and nine per cent respectively
• Number of crimes by young people fell by nine per cent
The Scottish Government has admitted the rise is “hugely disappointing”.
The number of recorded racist incidents rose from 4,877 to 5.349 in 2011/12.
At the same time the number of crimes or offences which were racially motivated went up from 6,109 to 6,622.
The detection rate for racist crimes also rose from 67 to 69 per cent, which is higher than the detection rate for all crimes, which has remained stubbornly at 49 per cent, despite the Scottish Government putting 1,000 extra police on the street.
The figures are included in the Scottish Policing Performance Framework, which brings together reports from throughout the year, including a fall in crime to 314,091.
However, despite crime falling consistently in recent years, domestic abuse - like racism - has risen, going up from 54,752 in 2010/11, to 59,690 last year.
Both the police and the Scottish Government insist this is partly down to victims being more willing to report crimes, but there are also fears of an actual rise in racism.
Aamer Anwar, a human rights lawyer who has represented victims of racism, said: “I don’t think it’s surprising. We’re living in a country with a climate of fear in relation to asylum seekers and Muslims, one would expect from that background that figures would go up.
“But there’s also increased confidence to report in the community, where a decade ago they would not have had the confidence.
“There has been an increase in determination to prosecute on behalf of the police and Crown Office. That’s positive, but the negative side is that there is, I believe, an increase in racism in society as a whole.”
However, the Edinburgh and Lothians Racial Equality Council (Elrec), backed the view that more victims are reporting crimes.
Foysol Choudhury, chairman, said: “Elrec recognises that not all incidents of hate crimes are being reported and an increase in reports would mean greater confidence among people of the city to report hate crime.”
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “It is hugely disappointing to see an increase in the number of racially motivated crimes and offences since the publication of the 2010-11 statistics.
“However, we know that this is not always due to an increased number of crimes taking place, but can instead be attributed to individuals and communities being better engaged with the police and having more confidence that when reporting a crime their complaint will be taken seriously.
“Regardless of the reasons behind the augmented numbers, we must continue with the work we are doing to tackle racism and hatred in all its forms whilst constantly looking at new ways of getting across the message to the next generation of young Scots.”