Alliance Party Justice Spokesperson, Stephen Farry, speaking in response to the publication of the latest figures for Hate Crimes by the PSNI, has ncalled for more attention to be paid to clear-up rates, and to using the Hate Crime laws now on the statute books.
Dr Farry stated: “By their nature, Hate crimes are a particularly offensive type of crime. Not only do they affect the immediate victim, but they spread fear throughout society that other people from a similar background may well be targeted too. They threaten the concept of a shared and inclusive society.
“The significant rise in reported racist and homophobic offences is very concerning. No doubt, an element of this will be due to people being more confident in reporting such crimes to the police, and the police should be congratulated for putting in place the necessary infrastructure for this. However, the underlying trend is still up. It remains a concern that are still no statistics published regarding sectarian hate crimes.
“Most concern should fall on the clearance rates of 16% for racist crimes, and 22% for homophobic crimes. There is much room for improvement here. But the onus cannot fall just on the police. The community must help in providing the information to allow prosecutions to occur.
“Since the end of last summer, Northern Ireland has the most comprehensive set of Hate Crime laws. These allow for stiffer sentences to be imposed for crimes motivated by sectarianism, racism and homophobia. But the laws are no good sitting on paper, they need to be used, and a strong message sent out as a result.”