Belfast’s racist attacks double in a year – police vow crackdown as six crimes reported every week

Racist ‪#‎hatecrime‬ has doubled in ‪#‎Belfast‬ over the past year, with six attacks reported every week across the city. As the number of reported ‪#‎racistattacks‬ in Belfast hits more than 300 within a year, families have been forced to flee, while others have become prisoners in their own homes, afraid to open the door. A police operation, named ‪#‎OperationReiner‬, was launched by the PSNI in May to crack down on hate crime incidents. Since then police have carried out 21 searches and arrested 44 suspects. More than 20 of those arrested have been charged, with some now facing a range of offences, including drugs, firearms and handling stolen goods.”

http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/local-national/northern-ireland/belfasts-racist-attacks-double-in-a-year-police-vow-crackdown-as-six-crimes-reported-every-week-30665321.html

By Deborah McAleese – 15 October 2014

Racist hate crime has doubled in Belfast over the past year, with six attacks reported every week across the city.

As the number of reported racist attacks in Belfast hits more than 300 within a year, families have been forced to flee, while others have become prisoners in their own homes, afraid to open the door.

Recognising its rapid spread, the PSNI woman in charge of tackling racist hate crime in Belfast, Superintendent Paula Hilman, has vowed to track down those responsible.

“We have the resources, we have the teams committed to this, we will be doing our level best to investigate these crimes and bring the perpetrators to justice. I know there are budget pressures but the Chief Constable has been clear about targeting the money we do have to serious harm and vulnerability. Hate crime falls within that criteria. Hate crime is a strategic priority for us. It causes serious harm within communities. Regardless of budget cuts, we will continue tackling this serious harm,” said Ms Hilman.

Superintendent Hilman said that while a number of the attacks have been orchestrated, many of them “are down to blatant criminality and some perceptions like social housing.”

A police operation, named Operation Reiner, was launched by the PSNI in May to crack down on hate crime incidents.

Since then police have carried out 21 searches and arrested 44 suspects. More than 20 of those arrested have been charged, with some now facing a range of offences, including drugs, firearms and handling stolen goods.

“While we have made arrests we always strive to do better. But we need the help of the community. Some of these crimes are a brick through the window in the middle of the night. If people have information they have to tell police,” Supt Hilman said.

High-visibility police patrols are being carried out in streets identified as high-risk areas for racist attacks.

“We target our patrols in the areas at the key times. We look at where crimes have happened, where minority ethnic groups are living and then we target our resources in those areas,” added Supt Hilman.

If you have been affected by hate crime, advice can be received by contacting the PSNI’s non-emergency helpline on 101 and pressing option 2. In an emergency dial 999.

Factfile

  • A total of 303 racist hate crimes in Belfast were reported to police over the past year.
  • This is an increase on the previous year with 153 reported.
  • Since May, officers have carried out 21 searches and arrested 44 suspected perpetrators.
  • Of those arrested 22 have been charged.

More than 150 calls have been made to the PSNI’s non-emergency helpline number –101, option 2 – in the past five months.

Catalogue of hate crimes

October:

  • The victim of a hate crime in north Belfast plans to leave the city after weeks of attacks. Ashan Parhiar, from Pakistan, says he does not feel safe in his home since moving there in August. The 25- year-old has lived in Belfast since July – but his Bray Street home in the Shankill Road area has been attacked five times in just six weeks.

September:

  • A gang of men with knives and a hatchet carry out a series of racist attacks in north Belfast. The gang assault and threaten two Hungarian men walking in the Glenbryn area. They then follow the pair to Hesketh Park, where the gang throw a bin at the window of a house occupied by other Hungarian residents. The following day the same gang threaten more Hungarian residents at a second house in the street.
  • A Hungarian woman is left too afraid to open her front door after she is targeted by racists. A number of windows at the front of the house at Broom Street in the Woodvale area are smashed. The woman and a man in the house are not injured.

July:

  • A Ku Klux Klan flag is erected on a lamppost at Island Street in east Belfast. It is removed the next day after discussions with residents and representatives after police receive a complaint.
  • Cars are damaged and paint thrown at walls and vehicles in a spate of hate crimes directed mainly at Romanian immigrants in east Belfast. Paint is thrown at a car in the Rosebery Street area and all its windows are smashed. Racist slogans are daubed on a wall.

Further reading:

Irish number plate may have attracted racist thugs to Pakistani man 

He’s fascinated by the Titanic, he works hard in a call centre, he pays his taxes… and how has Belfast welcomed him? With five terrifying racist attacks in six weeks 

Windows smashed in north Belfast race attack  

We’re not safe in Belfast, says dad after racist thugs smash window and set car ablaze 

Racist attacks: The police need to get somebody up in front of a judge for these attacks 

Race attacks: Political instability in Northern Ireland isn’t helping  

Race hate crimes shame us all  

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