New figures have revealed an alarming rise in reported hate crime over the past year, with more than 3,500 victims here in West Yorkshire.
The Bureau of Investigative Journalism found hate crimes in the county shot up by 69 per cent in 2015/16 compared to a national rise of 20 per cent.
Its study of data supplied by 40 of the 43 forces in England and Wales found that West Yorkshire recorded the biggest rise of them all.
However, there was reason to be hopeful as West Yorkshire was one of only three among the 13 largest forces to increase the number of cases where action was taken.
It recorded a 23 per cent increase in 2015/16 when it came to taking action against perpetrators, including a charge, summons, caution or restorative justice.
Detective Superintendent Darren Minton said: “West Yorkshire Police has zero tolerance to all hate incidents and as such people should feel confident in reporting incidents of this nature to us.
“There is certainly a greater public awareness of hate crime and the need to report it. This is something we have done our best to encourage.
“It is vital that people have the confidence to come forward and tell us.”
His comments were echoed in a video message released by West Yorkshire Police’s Temporary Assistant Chief Constable Angela Williams.
It is vital that people have the confidence to come forward and tell us.Detective Superintendent Darren Minton
She said: West Yorkshire Police encourage everyone – whether they are a victim or witness of a hate crime or a hate incident, to report it to us straightaway. We take all reports of hate very seriously.
“Hate crime can take many forms including verbal or online abuse, harassment, threats, intimidation, physical abuse and vandalism. It may be that some incidents fall short of actually being a crime, but we still need to know about these hate incidents, as by letting us know we can make sure that the support and advice is offered to those involved, and take action where needed.”
She said such crimes had a devastating effect on victims but also had the potential to divide communities, so everyone had a part to play in reporting them.
The force relaunched its joint relaunched its joint hate crime awareness campaign with the Police and Crime Commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson last October.
It also works with local authorities and charities like Stop Hate UK.
Det Supt Minton said: “This will account for some of the recent increases. Meanwhile we have also changed our crime recording practices which means there is a higher outcome of a hate incident being recorded as a crime.”