Published Tuesday, 15 April 2014
Police say there has been a rise in hate crimes. (© UTV)
Over the past year there has been an increase of more than 43% of attacks across the whole of Northern Ireland, with the majority taking place in Belfast.
Figures show that over 70% of attacks have taken place in the city and the police say that in some areas the violence is being carried out by loyalist paramilitaries, namely the UVF.
Assistant Chief Constable Will Kerr said: "We have to be very careful with numbers, they don't tell the full story.
"There has been a lot of under reporting over the years, but a lot of the government strategies have been designed to increase reports so that we get a more accurate and informed picture about the scale of the problem so that we can inform our response.
"We have been actively trying to encourage people to report hate crime, whether it is sectarian or racism."
The nature of recent crimes is very insidious in nature, they are very direct physical manifestations of hatred and intolerance, the nature of which should cause us very significant concern.
ACC Will Kerr
The senior police officer described an incident when a Romanian man had a bag of excrement thrown over him in a busy street in Belfast.
He continued: "When we spoke to that victim he pointed out that in the same area the majority of people had been more supportive.
"So we need to keep a degree of perspective and that the attacks are carried out by a minority of people."
ACC Kerr said loyalist paramilitaries were behind many of the attacks.
"In south and east Belfast the UVF has been actively involved in orchestrating these attacks," said the policeman.
Recently racist leaflets, claiming to be from the 'British Movement' were put through the letter boxes of homes in north Belfast.
The material is titled "Immigration has ruined our nation".
Les Allamby of the Northern Ireland Strategic Migration Partnership dismissed the content of the leaflets.
He said: "Migrants contribute to society, they pay more in tax than they take out in public services.
"Not only are these leaflets wrong morally, they are actually wrong in terms of what is going on in society."
Ethnic cultures bring a lot of positives to Northern Ireland and we should be proud to have them here.
In east Belfast work is underway to try and educate people about the benefits of other cultures and how they contribute to our society.
George Newell from Lagan Village Youth and Community Group added: "We have to move with the times.
"Ethnic cultures bring a lot of positives to Northern Ireland and we should be proud to have them here."
The group Alternatives helps mediate between racism victims and those involved in attacks.
Deborah Watters from the organisation said: "We engage with the victims and young people to prevent attacks.
"We also deliver anti-racism workshops in primary schools to try and reach young people at a very early stage to help challenge attitudes and behaviours."
© UTV News