Racism in Northern Ireland: up to three race-related incidents reported daily

Up to three race-related incidents are now being reported to the police inNorthern Ireland every single day, a new study of racism in the region has found.

But only 12 out of a reported 14,000 race hate crimes in Northern Ireland over the last five years have resulted in successful prosecutions, according to a report backed by the power-sharing administration in Belfast.

Despite an increase in racist attacks in the first six months of this year, so far the police clear-up rate for race hate crimes is just over 8% of incidents reported between January and April 2014, the report reveals.

The annual Human Rights and Racial Equality Benchmarking Report 2013/2014, released on Tuesday, points out that there were 982 racist incidents in 2013-14 while there were 750 such incidents in 2012-2013.

The report’s authors also reveal the nature of the attacks, mainly concentrated in the Greater Belfast area, since the start of 2014. These include:

• January 2014: four vehicles were burned out across North Belfast with Slovakian, Afghan and Polish families targeted by arsonists. In two cases households were forced to flee in order to protect their children.

• March 2014: a Polish family living on the Rathcoole estate on the northern outskirts of Belfast were terrorised out of their home by a loyalist gang who broke their windows and used a pipe bomb to destroy a car beside the property.

• May 2014: a Romanian cyclist has excrement thrown at him while travelling along Newtownards Road in east Belfast. In the same area a Jamaican family in the north of the city are attacked.

• June 2014: Two Pakistani men flee their home in north Belfast after first their windows were smashed and later the following day, the pair were physically attacked outside the property.

The survey, which was commissioned by the Northern Ireland Council For Ethnic Minorities (Nicem), also found that racism has supplanted traditional sectarianism as the main reason for employees being harassed, bullied or threatened in the region’s workplaces.

It noted that over the last five years 75% of all complaints about harassment in the office, shop or factory to the Equality Commission in Northern Ireland are related to racial abuse and intimidation.

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