Race hate crime hotspots revealed

Neil Docherty made racist comments on a train. Picture: PA
Neil Docherty made racist comments on a train. Picture: PA
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THREE race-based hate crimes take place in the Capital every day, new figures have revealed.

A detailed police breakdown shows there were 1008 racially motivated incidents recorded across Edinburgh between April 2013 and February this year.

Areas within the city centre have emerged as race crime hotspots, accounting for almost a quarter of the total figure, with 227 offences reported.

City police chief Superintendent Matt Richards recently warned that officers were being “dragged into the city centre” every weekend to deal with cases of drunk revellers racially abusing Eastern European door staff.

Increasingly diverse neighbourhoods in Sighthill and Gorgie saw 103 incidents over the 11-month period, with Liberton, Gilmerton, Leith and Forth also seeing a higher than average number of cases.

The News told recently how investment banker Neil Docherty, 43, from Linlithgow, was caught on camera racially abusing a 33-year-old woman, Fella Hammach, on board a Glasgow to Edinburgh train in August.

Concerned equality campaigners have welcomed the fact that figures for the 2013-14 period were down slightly on totals recorded during the previous 12 months, but said crime rates were still “too high”.

Foysol Choudhury, chair of the Edinburgh and Lothian Regional Equality Council (ELREC), said: “[These statistics show] that race is still the biggest issue when it comes to hate-related crime.

“However, we must not forget that, unfortunately, hate crime extends beyond racial issues to all the protected characteristics.

“ELREC has done a considerable amount of work to promote awareness of hate crime in all areas, believing that the best way to tackle hate crime against all members of the protected characteristics is through increased interaction between peoples of different backgrounds which can lead to improved understanding of other cultures.”

It is thought a significant number of racist assaults take place on public transport, with many going unreported because victims do not feel confident enough to come forward.

Moves are now under way to agree a hate crime “transport charter”, which would see firms including Lothian Buses and Edinburgh Trams sign up to a code aimed at helping minorities speak out and ensuring staff are trained to prevent discrimination.

The proposed charter has been welcomed by Iain Stewart, general secretary of the Edinburgh Inter-Faith Association, who said the latest hate crime figures showed why it was needed.

“We know there is greater under-reporting among protected groups and this initiative should encourage both witnesses and victims to speak out against any instances of hate crime be it verbal or physical abuse,” he said.

“It would also give people reporting instances confidence that their report would be acted on.”

A police spokeswoman said: “Police Scotland takes hate crimes very seriously and they are treated as a priority. We continue to do good work in this area.”