Hate crime victims urged to speak out

Takeaway owner Jie Yu was stabbed. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
Takeaway owner Jie Yu was stabbed. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
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Victims of hate crime are being urged to come forward to ensure their attackers are brought to justice.

Police revealed they are solving the majority of hate crimes committed in the city – but admitted many more incidents go unreported.

This is in part due to the nature of the incidents, which are motivated by prejudice of someone due to characteristics such as age, race or disability.

They can range from violent physical attacks to verbal abuse, criminal damage or even online bullying.

To tackle the issue, nearly 30 “remote reporting sites” have now been set up at community centres and faith establishments to help encourage victims to have the confidence to come forward.

New figures reveal that there were 1427 hate crimes reported in Edinburgh over 2014-15, equating to 141 more victims than the previous year.

City police Chief Superintendent Mark Williams, below, said it was tragic that four in five of the last year’s victims had been targeted because of their race, despite the city’s diversity.

Among the victims of racial prejudice was Chinese takeaway owner Jie Yu, who was stabbed in a brutal attack in West Pilton in October last year.

Gary Reid, 19, and James Hogg, 24, were jailed in March after admitting to the attempted murder of Mr Yu, who suffered a near-fatal wound to the neck.

Reid told police after the horrific incident, in which he stole Mr Yu’s car before stabbing him, that his actions were racially motivated.

His older brother, John Reid, was jailed in 2010 for the high-profile killing of Chinese takeaway driver Simon San in Lochend.

Ch Supt Williams said his officers were solving the majority of reported cases, but said the sad reality was that last year’s figures were only “scratching the surface” of the real number of incidents.

To help victims feel more confident in reporting an incident, staff and volunteers at 28 remote reporting sites – which range from churches to charities – have been trained in how to handle complaints and pass on reports for police.

Ch Supt Williams said: “We work really hard to target those who are committing those sorts of crimes. Edinburgh is an incredibly diverse city.

“We’ve now got the biggest population of Polish people outside London.

“Ten per cent of our residents are students. We have the fourth biggest Chinese population outside London. We have hundreds of thousands of visitors here from all over the world. We have the biggest proportion of any local authority in Scotland of people 
resident in Edinburgh who were not born here.”

He added: “We want the detection rate to remain as high as possible. I think 70 per cent is a credible level given the influx and egress from the city as well. Some of this is associated with the nighttime 
economy. It’s quite a challenging one to keep up the detection rates but we’ve done well.”

The Edinburgh Inter-faith Association, based at Nicolson Square in Newington, is among the third-party reporting sites.

EIA general secretary Iain Stewart said the sites gave potential victims “somewhere they feel comfortable to go”.

He said: “Some people feel more confident to talk to somebody else, and some are not even sure if it’s a hate crime.”

Mr Stewart, who also chairs the hate crime strategic development group in Edinburgh, added: “We have many links to many faith communities. We are a voice that people trust.”

Racists’ shame

Of the 1427 hate crimes reported last year, 79.1 per cent were race-related.

Sexual orientation was the motivation for 13.4 per cent of cases, while offenders claimed religion as their grounds for 5.3 per cent.

Hate crimes against people with disabilities equated to 1.8 per cent of the 2014-15 cases, while attacks on transgender victims made up 0.4 per cent of reports. The remaining 0.1 per cent of hate crime reports related to other characteristics, such as age.

Victims can report hate crimes via the usual telephone numbers of 101, or 999 if it is an emergency, or visit a police office.