Hate crimes soar as more city victims come forward

THE number of hate crimes reported in the Capital has soared by nearly a quarter – with some offences increasing by as much as 90 per cent.

Crimes include attacks due to a victim’s sexual orientation or their religious beliefs.

But today police chiefs also revealed improvements in the arrest rate over such crimes, with more than six out of ten reported offences ending with someone being charged.

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Campaigners against hate crime said the rising tide of reports could be due to growing confidence among victims. Foysol Choudhury, chair of Edinburgh and Lothians Regional Equality Council (ELREC), said: “I feel that the figures are increasing because more people are coming forward. That is because there is a greater confidence something will be done.

“The fact that victims of race crime are willing to make reports and work with the police is a reason why they have been successful in catching people.”

Racially motivated hate crimes totalled 995 between April and December last year in Edinburgh, compared with the three-year average of 829 – a rise of 20 per cent.

Hate crimes involving sexual orientation climbed by 69 per cent against the three-year average, from 65 to 110, while those involving religious beliefs soared by 90 per cent from 29 to 55 during the same nine-month period.

Sentencing relating to crimes which are motivated by malice based on a victim’s disability or sexual orientation must take that into account.

Colin Macfarlane, director of Stonewall Scotland, which campaigns for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) equality, said: “These figures are a product of the fact police forces now have to record hate crimes against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, which might lead to the impression that there is a dramatic increase in hate crimes.

“It is depressing that there have been 110 incidents. Every day people are targeted simply because of who they are, and many still do not report this.

“We pride ourselves in thinking we’re a forward-thinking and tolerant nation, but for many LGBT people this vision isn’t a reality.”

The arrest rate for hate crimes increased between April and December against the three-year average by 79 per cent, with 743 of 1205 hate crimes solved. That puts the arrest rate for the offence at 62 per cent.

Chief Inspector Dianne Bruce said: “Lothian and Borders Police do not tolerate hate crime in any form. It is acknowledged that these efforts can result in a rise in hate crime due to increased confidence and reporting, which are welcomed.”

Councillor Paul Edie, the city’s community safety leader, said: “We have always felt it’s an under-reported crime and now more are coming forward.”