The number of hate crimes reported to West Midlands Police has doubled over the last five years.
The figure - which shows crimes including racist, homophobic and transphobic verbal and physical abuse - has increased from 3,505 in 2015 to 8,369 in 2020, according to figures obtained by Liberty Investigates through a Freedom of Information request.
Yet the force resolved fewer of these cases in 2020 than it did in 2015.
In 2015, West Midlands Police recorded 991 conclusive outcomes for hate crimes (out of 3,505 reported).
In 2020 they recorded 794 conclusive outcomes (out of 8,369 reported) - a drop of 19.88%.
One of the issues that officers face while investigating these crimes is that a significant number of people who report hate crime later withdraw their support.
The alarming figures come as officers investigate a shocking case of hate crime from last weekend, when a gay man was subjected to a horrific attack in Holloway Circus as he held hands with another man.
John-Paul Kessler was left in shock and with a bloodied face following the assault in the early hours of Sunday October 10 - the details were released on National Coming Out Day. He is one of a number of victims of hate crime in recent months.
West Midlands police said that officers are investigating other homophobic hate crimes and are “determined to get justice for victims”.
Today West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner has announced that they have commissioned £200,000 to support victims of hate crime following the recent homophobic attacks in the city.
Members of Birmingham’s LGBTQI+ community have organised a solidarity protest in Birmingham city centre following this and other hate crime attacks on this evening (Thursday).
How does hate crime in the West Midlands compare to the rest of the country?
The picture is similar for other forces across England and Wales.
Across 40 forces, reports of hate crime rose from 52,785 in 2015 to 106,300 in 2020 - it is recognised that this increase is in part due to public campaigns to boost victims’ confidence to come forward.
What do Liberty campaigners say about this?
“These findings are extremely concerning,” said Nadia Whittome MP, who previously worked as a hate crime project officer at the non-profit social enterprise Communities Inc, based in Nottingham.
“I am not surprised that people withdraw from the police and criminal system, given how negative an experience many people from marginalised groups have had. However, the scale of withdrawals and lack of justice represents an institutional failure of hate crime victims.”
Dame Vera Baird QC, the Victims’ Commissioner for England and Wales, said police had failed victims.
“It is shocking that police are clearly so unresponsive to this. If people are gaining the confidence to go to the police, only to be left lying by the wayside, there can’t be a clearer failure.”
What have police said about the statistics?
In a statement issued to BirminghamWorld, Chief Superintendent Mat Shaer, the force lead in tackling hate crime, said: “We won’t tolerate any type of hate crime against our diverse and multi-cultural communities across the West Midlands.
“It was a previously under-reported crime, and we’ve worked closely with our local partners to encourage people to tell us about unacceptable abuse.
“We’ve tried to make it easier to reach us through third party reporting centres, getting relevant guidance and information translated into different languages and through our hate crime app. We also work with our local and national partners, including Community Safety Trust (CST), Remedi and Tell MAMA to further help us in combating and responding to hate crime.
“We also work closely with the Crown Prosecution Service to seek to achieve positive outcomes where possible.
“One of the challenges is hate crimes are rarely captured on CCTV with audio or even on officers’ body worn video sometimes making them more difficult to prosecute. However, that said, the victim often knows the offender and consideration for out of court settlements, such as a community resolution, is sometimes a preferred solution where the victim and the offender both agree to the outcome.
“Sometimes a victim doesn’t want to pursue a prosecution, they just want the incident recorded.
“Our stance remains clear. Every report of hate crime is taken seriously because such behaviour is unacceptable and can have a significant impact on victims, their families, friends and communities.”
West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner announce £200,000 funding to support victims of hate crime
The West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner has commissioned £200,000 to support victims of hate crime following the recent homophobic attacks in the city.
In a joint statement, West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner Simon Foster, the Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street and the Leader of Birmingham City Council Cllr Ian Ward, said:“The recent abhorrent, vicious homophobic attacks in Birmingham disgust the three of us in equal measure.
“For someone to be assaulted because of who they are or who they love is simply not acceptable.
“But hate will not win and our message to the homophobes is that they do not represent Birmingham, and they never will. Everyone has a right to feel safe on our streets, no matter where they are, day or night.
“West Midlands Police has increased patrols in and around the Gay Village and the Police and Crime Commissioner has commissioned a new £200,000 service to support victims of hate crime.
“Meanwhile, Birmingham City Council is providing free hate crime training to businesses at Southside venues as well as helping to develop a space open to anyone who may be feeling vulnerable when out and about in the Gay Village and the local area.
“Whilst the West Midlands Combined Authority has been working with Southside Bid and other partners to look at issues such as CCTV and 24/7 public transport to improve night-time safety in the area.
“We are a diverse city. We are an inclusive city. We are a city that says no to crimes like these.
“The message from us could not be clearer: We are proud of our region’s diversity. We are proud of our difference. We all feel an unwavering duty to stand together, to root out these crimes and to bring the perpetrators to justice.”
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