POLICE are urging the silent victims of hate crime to speak up and report the offence.
It follows a study into reported hate crime in Sussex, which has risen by a third in the past year.
During the period April, 2013, to March this year the total number of recorded crimes in Sussex rose by 28 per cent, from 786 in 2012/13 to 1,009 in 2013/14.
Reports made to the police that constitute a crime are divided into separate strands, including disability, race, religion, sexual orientation and transgender.
Across the area, there has been a dramatic rise in the number of disability hate crimes of almost 50 per cent from 48 since 2012/13 to 80 in between 2013/14.
In Arun, a total of 11 disability hate crimes were recorded, while in Worthing and Adur this figure was just five.
Tip of the iceberg
However, hate crime Sergeant Peter Allan feels these figures are just the tip of the iceberg.
He explained police also record hate incidents – which is anything that does not constitute a criminal offence but is perceived to have been motivated by prejudice or hostility.
He said that most hate crimes reported across Arun, Worthing and Adur are generally verbal-based ones.
Sgt Allan said: “I find it truly hard to believe that there have only been 11 disability hate crimes in Arun in the past year.”
He added: “Hate crime not only targets individuals for being who they are, but the hate-based behaviour of perpetrators can also have a wide reaching effect throughout marginalised groups and communities.
“We acknowledge that not everyone is comfortable reporting hate crime to the police, for a variety of reasons. We are working hard to increase trust and confidence of victims and to make it easier for them to report directly to us.”
Report the hate
Race hate crime is the largest reported offence, with 56 in Arun in the past year and 80 in Worthing and Adur.
Sgt Allan said victims may not even know they were being targeted.
As part of the force’s battle on hate crime, Sgt Allan is urging people to keep an eye out for vulnerable members of their community.
“If you live next to someone old, disabled or vulnerable, watch for anything out of the ordinary.”
He said this could be lots of children staying at the house of a vulnerable person or someone being taken advantage of by a friend.
To report a hate crime or incident call 101 or report it online at www.sussex.police.uk