Race hatred incidents soar by one fifth in just a year

Shami Khan
Shami Khan
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RACE hate in the Lothians has soared over the last three years despite a sharp fall in recorded crime overall, new figures reveal.

The number of victims of racial incidents, including verbal abuse and physical attacks, has leapt by 19 per cent in the last year alone and by a quarter since 2008.

Figures released under Freedom of Information laws show the Pakistani community suffers more racial prejudice than any other ethnic group – accounting for almost 20 per cent of all victims.

Perhaps surprisingly, people described as “white Scottish” were the fourth most victimised group in 2010/11, behind “white other” – likely eastern European and Polish migrants – and Indian communities.

The statistics are at odds with Scottish Government figures for the Lothians and Borders showing a 15 per cent drop in recorded offences in 2010-11.

Foysol Choudhury, chair of Edinburgh & Lothians Regional Equality Council, said statistics for race hate often spiked during periods of economic uncertainty.

He added: “Public authorities like the police are getting better at recording hate crime, but unfortunately we receive regular complaints from victims that they feel the police and other public authorities are not doing enough. The victims are also telling us that they are being told not a lot could be done because those who commit offences are often children.

“We urge all victims of hate crime to report all incidents.”

Shami Khan, secretary of the Pakistan Society of Edinburgh, said Islamophobia was often manifested on the streets by verbal or physical attacks on the Pakistani community.

“If anything happens in a Muslim country overseas, the Pakistani community here gets victimised and abused,” he said. “We get a backlash here.”

Mr Khan said the solvency rate for race crimes was “very low” and called on the police, judiciary and politicians to take the issue “more seriously”.

And he added: “At night time when you have young people going about in groups, you don’t see our elderly people or women walking in the street. They are scared to go outside.”

Councillor Paul Edie, chair of Edinburgh Community Safety Partnership, said: “When you consider that crime has been tumbling in the city by 21 per cent over the last four years it’s very depressing that these figures are on the way up.”

A spokeswoman for Lothian and Borders Police said: “Hate crime will not be tolerated, and the force treats such incidents with the utmost seriousness.”The number of victims of racial incidents, including verbal abuse and physical attacks, has leapt by 19 per cent in the last year alone and by a quarter since 2008.

Figures released under Freedom of Information laws show the Pakistani community suffers more racial prejudice than