Racist crime down in sign of improving city relations

Insp Mark Rennie with a shopkeeper 'body cam' . Picture: Ian Rutherford
Insp Mark Rennie with a shopkeeper 'body cam' . Picture: Ian Rutherford
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A FALL in the number of racist incidents recorded in the Capital was today hailed as evidence of improving community 
relations.

New figures showed a ten per cent drop in incidents in Edinburgh over the past year – from 1017 in 2011-12 to 916 in 
2012-13.

That follows a 20 per cent 
increase in incidents revealed this time last year.

Foysol Choudhury, chairman of the Edinburgh and Lothians Regional Equality Council (ELREC), said the figures were good news.

He said: “We are educating people now about each other’s culture and they are starting to realise everyone is a valid member of the community.

“It’s about helping people to understand everyone is part of the community and learning to respect other people, religion, activities and culture.

“Race crime is still too high. However, the police should be congratulated for informing racists that racist activity is illegal and will lead to 
prosecution.”

Earlier this year, mini “body cams” were issued to shopkeepers in the Capital in a pilot project so they could capture any racist attacks on film and the footage could be used to prosecute the culprits.

Across Scotland as a whole, recorded racist incidents were down by around 14 per 
cent.

But the statistics, published by the Scottish Government, showed Edinburgh still had the second highest proportion of racist incidents after Glasgow.

The Scottish Conservatives pointed out that despite the overall fall, the number of anti-English incidents reported to police had increased in the past year.

Racist crimes against English people now account for five per cent of all incidents – up from three per cent last year.

Scottish Conservative justice spokeswoman Margaret Mitchell said: “The overall fall in racist incidents in Scotland is welcome, and compares favourably with other countries.

“However, I am concerned that amid all the positive statistics is the fact anti-English sentiment appears to be on the increase. It’s impossible to say if the referendum has had a direct bearing on these worrying statistics but clearly anti-English rhetoric doesn’t help.”

The Scottish Government hit back at the Tories, accusing them of trying to make political capital.

A spokesman for Community Safety Minister Roseanna Cunningham said: “One racist incident in Scotland is one too many – and all racist behaviour should be utterly condemned.

“However, the Tories’ baseless attempt to play politics with such a serious issue is 
deplorable.”

iswanson@edinburghnews.com