Authorities in crackdown on 'hate crime' in Boston
FIGURES showing only 11 people were charged with racially or religiously aggravated criminal offences in Boston in the last two years have been hailed as "encouraging."
Statistics released to the Target under the Freedom of Information Act show six such charges were laid in 2010 and five in 2011.
Often referred to as hate crime, these type of offences are any crimes committed when the offender demonstrates hostility towards the victim due to their race or religion or where the offence is motivated by the victim's race or religion.
Assault, criminal damage, harassment and public order offences can all be racially or religiously aggravated under the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 and people convicted of these type of crimes face a higher maximum penalty than those found guilty of the basic offence without the hate crime element.
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Boston Borough Council's portfolio holder for community safety Councillor Stephen Woodliffe told the Target: "There are now a number of different ways for people to report incidents of this nature – not just through the police - so it is encouraging to hear that so few people have been charged.
"However, we will not be complacent. One is one too many.
"Together with partner agencies the borough council has been running a campaign about hate crime for a year now, educating, so that people have a better understanding of what a hate crime is – both victims and perpetrators - and the options available to them, so that reporting of hate crime matches the reality of those crimes being committed."
Lincolnshire Police's Assistant Chief Constable Keith Smy said: "We work very hard to train our officers to recognise hate crime and to ensure that people are confident in our abilities to investigate such crimes.
"We have seen significant increases in migrant communities over recent years and Lincolnshire Police is very much a lead agency in promoting integration and cohesion.
"In terms of the types of crime reported, the majority of incidents tend to be racially motivated criminal damage, verbal abuse and minor assaults.
"This tends to be the less serious types of offences however we recognise the negative impact on both individuals and communities that hate crime have and as such they are treated very seriously."