HATE CRIME ON THE RISE Bath­gate sees 36 per cent in­crease on 2017 fig­ures

West Lothian Courier - - Front Page - Deb­bie Hall

Bath­gate has seen hate crime rise by 36 per cent com­pared to the same pe­riod last year.

Statis­tics from a Po­lice Scot­land re­port also re­vealed that van­dal­ism was also up by 10 per cent in the town.

The fig­ures were re­vealed to mem­bers of Bath­gate Com­mu­nity Coun­cil at a re­cent meet­ing and cover the five months from April to Au­gust.

Dur­ing that time, 15 hate crimes were re­ported to Po­lice Scot­land, com­pared with 11 from April to Au­gust last year.

There was some good news how­ever, as the re­port stated that as a whole, fig­ures in ar­eas such as anti-so­cial be­hav­iour and as­sault in pub­lic places had fallen.

Hate crimes are prej­u­dice-mo­ti­vated crimes and peo­ple can be tar­geted be­cause of their race, re­li­gion, sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion or gen­der, among other things.

Deputy area com­man­der for West Loth­ian, In­spec­tor Adam Smith, said the force takes such crimes ex­tremely se­ri­ously and urged vic­tims to speak up.

He con­tin­ued: “We do not tol­er­ate any form of hate crime in West Loth­ian and whilst 15 such of­fences in Bath­gate is a very low num­ber for this five-month pe­riod, I would be dis­ap­pointed

if there was just one hate crime.

“I would urge any­one who is a vic­tim of or wit­nesses any hate crime or in­ci­dent to please come for­ward so we can take ac­tion and pro­vide sup­port.

“Re­ports can be made by call­ing 101 or 999 if a crime is in progress or through a third party re­port­ing cen­tre, de­tails of which can be found on our web­site.”

David Main, a mem­ber of Bath­gate Com­mu­nity Coun­cil, said the statis­tics and what could be done about them were dis­cussed by those at the meet­ing.

He con­tin­ued: “At the Sep­tem­ber meet­ing we had two po­lice of­fi­cers in at­ten­dance who came to dis­cuss some of last year’s crime statis­tics, which can be found in their an­nual re­port for 2017/ 18, which re­late to Bath­gate over the past year.

“On the whole fig­ures in ar­eas such as anti-so­cial be­hav­iour and as­sault in pub­lic places are down by 12 per cent and 37 per cent re­spec­tively but in­stances of hate crime and van­dal­ism have in­creased by 36 per cent and 10 per cent re­spec­tively.

“So what does this all mean? Is Bath­gate be­com­ing a more law­less place?

“It would be fool­ish to de­cide from a few fig­ures such a loaded ques­tion, es­pe­cially when one re­mem­bers that the ac­tual num­bers of of­fend­ers in­volved is likely to be com­par­a­tively low. In some in­stances it is the ac­tion of a very small group.

“Cer­tainly there are fewer po­lice on Bath­gate’s streets as a re­sult of coun­cil cut­backs, which is hav­ing an im­pact on what the po­lice can do with fewer re­sources in terms of po­lice num­bers, but per­haps a so­lu­tion might be of­fered by the greater use of tech­nol­ogy.

“Ne v e r t h e l e s s the com­mu­nity coun­cil passed a vote of thanks to the po­lice for largely main­tain­ing the town peace.”

MSP Neil Find­lay said the fig­ures were wor­ry­ing.

He con­tin­ued: “These are very con­cern­ing statis­tics.

“Hate crime is a cow­ardly and nasty crime that sin­gles out and tar­gets peo­ple be­cause of their race, colour, re­li­gion, gen­der, sex­u­al­ity, dis­abil­ity or other char­ac­ter­is­tic.

“We know that our po­lice of­fi­cers are un­der huge pres­sures due to cuts to ser­vices and the loss of sup­port staff but an in­crease like this can­not be ig­nored.

“We all want to live in a peace­ful and co­he­sive so­ci­ety and here is ev­i­dence of the im­pact of the cuts to our com­mu­nity polic­ing.”

These are very con­cern­ing statis­tics

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