Lancashire Police investigate 1,500 racist hate crimes in 12 months, but nearly a third go unsolved
Nearly a third of all racist hate crimes reported to police in Lancashire went unpunished last year, according to latest Home Office figures.
The new figures published on Monday (March 21) reveal that a total of 1, 553 racially and religiously aggravated hate crimes were reported to Lancashire Police in the 12 months to September 2018.
It means Lancashire Police investigated more hate crimes than 35 of the 44 police forces in England and Wales - the equivalent of 30 hate crimes every week.
The offences - all of which are defined as hate crimes - include racially or religiously aggravated assault, harassment and criminal damage.
But the figure remains well below that of other large regional forces, including Greater Manchester (5,199 reports), West Yorkshire (4,458) and London's Metropolitan Police (11,915).
However, the figures also reveal that nearly a third of all racist hate crimes investigated by Lancashire Police were closed without identifying a suspect.
Of the 1,553 racially aggravated hate crimes reported to Lancashire Police in the 12-month period, a staggering 474 incidents - 31 per cent - were assigned the outcome "investigation complete - no suspect identified".
This means a reported crime has been investigated "as far as reasonably possible" and the case is closed pending further investigative opportunities.
A Lancashire Police spokesman said: "Hate incidents and crimes of any kind can have a devastating effect on the victim, their families and communities.
“They are frightening and upsetting but, by reporting any incident or crime, you can get the help and support you need and prevent it from happening to other people.
"The only way we can stamp out this sort of behaviour is if we know about it – and we need the public’s help to achieve this.
"Officers require clear evidence, with the support of the Crown Prosecution Service, to pursue a charge or summons.
"When available, we will always deal with such crimes in a robust and timely manner.
“Hate incidents and crimes of any kind are not acceptable, and instances of it need to end.
"There is no place for hate in Lancashire."
Mukhtar Master, Muslim representative for Preston Faith Covenant, responded to the figures by calling for a zero tolerance approach to hate crimes.
He said: "These figures are without doubt very worrying. They are symptomatic of a growing tide of Islamophobia in society, which is being driven by the media, extremist groups and society in general.
"Additionally, cuts in police numbers must also play a part.
"By way of any solution, we must foster a zero tolerance to any type of hate, particularly Islamophobia, and additionally invest in all aspects of the criminal justice system, but in particular the police and tackling hate crime.
Mrs Veronica Afrin, chair of Preston and Western Lancashire Racial Equality and Diversity Council, suggested that divisive political issues such as Brexit could be a contributing factor in the rise of hate crime.
She said: "Preston City has enjoyed cultural and faith diversity for a long period of time due to the immense goodwill of the citizens of Preston.
"In the current political and economic uncertainties we are beginning to see a rise in racism and community tensions and in this difficult environment we all need to support each other and fight inequality and injustice in our society.”
Diana Fawcett, chief officer at Independent charity Victim Support, warned the figures could undermine public confidence in the ability of the justice system to report hate crime.
She said: "The fact that such a large number of these cases are being closed with no suspect identified threatens to further undermine public confidence in the criminal justice system when it comes to reporting racially and religiously motivated hate crime."
Greater Manchester Police swiftly responded to the figures by acknowledging that it has "a lot of work to do".
Responding to the figures, Greater Manchester Police Assistant Chief Constable Wasim Chaudhry said: "Victims are at the centre of what we do and when the results show that we are not achieving the standards that they expect, we have to ask ourselves some serious questions.
"We recognise we have some way to go to reassure our communities that hate crimes are being treated as seriously as they would expect, but this in itself is a priority for us."
How Lancashire Police figures compare with other forces in England and Wales
The total number of racially and religiously-aggravated offences recorded by police in the UK has also reached a new high, with 57,652 recorded during this period across England and Wales.
It is the largest number for any 12-month period since these categories of offence were established in April 2012.
Here is a breakdown by police force of the proportion of racially or religiously aggravated offences recorded by officers in the 12 months to September 2018 which were assigned the outcome "investigation complete - no suspect identified".
The list reads, from left to right: name of police force, the number of racially or religiously aggravated offences recorded by police in the 12 months to September 2018, the number of these recorded offences assigned the outcome "investigation complete - no suspect identified", and this number expressed as a percentage.
The list is ranked by percentage, starting with the highest.
Greater Manchester: 5,199 2,385 - 46%
West Midlands: 3,405 1,496 - 44%
British Transport Police: 2,619 968 - 37%
Northumbria: 1,269 421 - 33%
Sussex: 1,076 338 - 31%
Lancashire: 1,553 474 - 31%
Thames Valley: 1,666 484 - 29%
West Yorkshire: 4,458 1,292 - 29%
Humberside: 549 151 - 28%
Gloucestershire: 233 64 - 27%
Merseyside: 1,613 442 - 27%
Metropolitan Police: 11,915 3,214 - 27%
Nottinghamshire: 771 206 - 27%
South Yorkshire: 1,191 318 - 27%
South Wales: 924 245 - 27%
Durham: 369 89 - 24%
Cleveland: 621 148 - 24%
Avon and Somerset: 1,634 380 - 23%
Hertfordshire: 1,006 231 - 23%
Cambridgeshire: 686 157 - 23%
Leicestershire: 731 167 - 23%
Essex: 1,219 276 - 23%
Suffolk: 434 94 - 22%
Devon and Cornwall: 815 173 - 21%
Hampshire: 1,563 328 - 21%
Wiltshire: 410 84 - 20%
Surrey: 1,085 222 - 20%
Northamptonshire: 457 93 - 20%
Kent: 1,787 361 - 20%
Cheshire: 792 159 - 20%
Dorset: 338 67 - 20%
Dyfed-Powys: 147 29 - 20%
Warwickshire: 412 78 - 19%
Norfolk: 411 74 - 18%
Derbyshire: 510 89 - 17%
Cumbria: 217 37 - 17%
Bedfordshire: 607 99 - 16%
Lincolnshire: 260 41 - 16%
North Wales: 354 55 - 16%
Staffordshire: 962 149 - 15%
Gwent: 373 57 - 15%
City of London: 109 15 - 14%
West Mercia: 633 86 - 14%
North Yorkshire: 269 11 - 4%