Wigan sees a rise in recorded hate crimes
The number of reported hate crimes has risen in the borough, new figures reveal.
But police put the increase down to more victims finding the confidence to speak out.
In the first three months of this year, there were 59 hate crimes recorded by Wigan police.
A Greater Manchester Police spokesman said: “This is an increase on the previous year which is encouraging as it evidences that there is an increase in confidence to report.
“In Wigan we take hate crime very seriously and have recently run two campaigns, working with numerous partner agencies to raise awareness across the borough.
“The campaigns were not only to encourage people to report hate crime but was a promise to try and get people to end hate crime by allowing everyone to be themselves, where no one should face violence, abuse or hatred because of who they are or who they love, where they are from, what they look like or what they believe.
“Wigan has a multi-agency response to hate crime which includes Citizens Advice Bureau, Greater Manchester Victim Services and GMP.
“We want to ensure that anyone who suffers from hate crime gets the support they want from the best service or person to provide it and at a time and in a way that suits them.”
Previous GMP figures concerning prejudice featuring physical and verbal violence have shown that around two-thirds have been categorised as racially-motivated, about a fifth relating to sexual orientation and the remainder involving transgender people, religion and “alternative subculture”.
Wigan MP Lisa Nandy welcomed the fact that more people were coming forward to report hate crimes.
But she said that it was “troubling that the rise in incidents in Wigan reflect a rise in hate crime against specific groups and a growing intolerance in society as a whole".
“Even with reported incidents on the rise, most hate crimes still go unreported," she added.
"We should be concerned that these latest figures are likely to be much higher in reality.
“It is essential that when victims come forward they are dealt with sensitively and those responsible are caught and prosecuted.
“The serious cuts to Greater Manchester Police in recent years threatens to undermine the work done by the police, our excellent local charities and our schools to create a more tolerant culture and to tackle hate crime.”
Last September, malicious yobs daubed racist graffiti on a Wigan convenience store.
Vile slurs, including references to terrorism and sex grooming gangs, were painted on the outside walls of Right Choices in Norley.
The graffiti even contained references to the so-called Islamic State. Four incidents of hate crime were also recorded in Wigan’s railways in the first half of last year.
And hate criminals will face tougher penalties if they abuse a position of trust, authority or influence under new sentencing proposals.
Draft guidelines published today set out how courts should deal with people convicted of public order offences related to stirring up hatred against people or groups on the grounds of race, religion or sexual orientation.