Six hate incidents or crimes reported to police every day in Northern Ireland

More than six hate-motivated incidents or crimes are reported to the police every day, new figures reveal.

Statistics published by the PSNI and research agency NISRA tracked reported crimes and incidents over the past 15 years.

They show that there were 936 racist incidents and 626 racist crimes recorded by the police in the 12 months to the end of March 2020 – a slight decrease on the previous year, but still one of the highest figures since police records began in 2004/05.

In addition, the past year saw 888 sectarian incidents and 640 sectarian crimes, as well as 272 incidents and 195 crimes with homophobic motivation.

Patrick Corrigan from Amnesty International said the rates were “worryingly high”.

“The rate of incidents motivated by racism have consistently outstripped those motivated by sectarianism since 2015/2016, despite the relatively small numbers of people in Northern Ireland from ethnic minority backgrounds,” he said.

“The frequency of homophobic hate crime in Northern Ireland remains a disturbing long-term trend, while incidents motivated by transphobia have doubled in the last year – a very worrying development which must be addressed by the police and the wider community.”

Overall police recorded crime has shown a downward trend in the last 17 years.

In 1998/99 there were 104,647 crimes recorded which increased each year to a peak of 138,132 in 2002/03.

The lowest level of 98,006 was recorded in 2016/17, followed by yearly increases to 106,585 in 2019/20.

Malicious communications offences were recorded in Northern Ireland for the first time during 2017/18 with 904 offences, rising to 1,902 offences in 2018/19 and 4,790 offences in 2019/20.

The lowest number of murders since the start of the data series in 1998/99 was 13 recorded in 2016/17.

This was followed by 23 murders in 2017/18, the second highest figure in the last 10 years and 24 in 2018/19, the highest in the last 10 years.

In 2019/20 there were 19 murders recorded which is the fourth highest figure in the last 10 years. Between 1998/99 and 2014/15 levels of cruelty to children/young people remained below 185 offences recorded.

Since 2015/16 levels increased to 605 crimes recorded in 2019/20, over three times the level recorded during 2014/15.

Sexual activity offences more than doubled from 257 to 627 between 2012/13 and 2016/17 before falling to 580 in 2019/20.

The number of sexual offences involving victims under 18 at the time the offence was committed more than doubled between 2007/08 and 2019/20.

‘Sexting’ increased by 62% between 2013/14 and 2014/15 and by 69% between 2014/15 and 2015/16 with levels peaking at 494 offences in 2017/18.

The number of blackmail offences nearly trebled between 2014/15 and 2015/16, from 77 to 223, reaching a high of 287 offences in 2018/19.

Separately there were 31,817 domestic abuse incidents recorded in 2019/20, an increase of 52% on the 20,959 recorded in 2004/05.

There were also 18,640 domestic abuse crimes recorded in 2019/20, which was 93% higher than 2004/05.

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