PSNI launches racist crime phone line

Published Monday, 19 May 2014
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The PSNI has launched a dedicated phone line for the reporting of racist crimes following a spate of attacks in Belfast.

Graffiti was sprayed on homes in the south of the city over the weekend and in one shocking incident last month a Romanian cyclist had faeces thrown at him as he travelled along the Newtownards Road.

Both incidents, police said, are being treated as hate crimes.

According to PSNI annual crime figures, in the past year there has been a 30% increase in racist incidents, with the vast majority of attacks taking place in Belfast.

On Monday police said the UVF was behind "some" of the attacks, but not all and they were carrying out a "campaign of attrition" against the paramilitary organisation and other groups.

In the wake of the incidents, police established Operation Reiner in order to tackle the upsurge in attacks.

A team of 10 detectives has been put together to coordinate and piece together the PSNI's investigation.

As part of that operation police have set up a dedicated phone line for people to contact investigating officers about racist attacks.

It can be reached through the new non-emergency number 101 and the service is available in 50 different languages.

This is an issue that we need to take seriously and we need to start to do something about it in providing a long-term solution to the problems of racism within Northern Irish society.

ACC Will Kerr

Assistant Chief Constable Will Kerr said: "This was an operational response to the upsurge in racist hate crimes across the city of Belfast.

"We are still in the early stages of Operation Reiner and whilst the tempo will pick up over the next couple of weeks we realise that an operation like this can only ever be as successful as the information we get from the public.

"This is about making victims feel confident and comfortable in contacting their police service and passing on information."

The senior police officer added: "Any difference to these thugs appears to be their justification and it is very insidious.

"It is not realistic - and nor should we have to - to put a police officer on every street corner.

"So we need the community to act as our eyes and ears to make sure members of minority ethnic communities feel protected.

"Police will play a full part, but we can't arrest our way out of this problem. This is just one of the many issues the new Northern Ireland will have to get to grips with.

"We need a joined up response to this issue from politics, policing and broader civic society."

Justice Minister David Ford welcomed the PSNI's dedicated telephone line during question time in the assembly.

He said: "I have given a commitment, through the Community Safety Strategy, that the Criminal Justice System will tackle hate crime and the harm it causes.

"In relation to recent racist attacks, I have discussed the increase with the Chief Constable and met with the Secretary of State and senior police officers last week regarding action being taken."

Honorary Polish Consulate for Northern Ireland Jerome Mullen said he hoped the new phone line would make a difference.

"I think there is a big element of sectarianism in all of this and I think there is a great fear in all of this as well, so I think we haven't left the past behind us yet and that's the big issue," he commented.

Local community worker Kasia Garbel said the police need to work with the community to build trust for the initiative to work.

She said: "I think they need to show that they're prosecuting in order for the community to build trust with police because if they are not seen to be doing anything, then nobody will pick up the phone."

© UTV News
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10 Comments
Sam1690 in Ballysillan wrote (153 days ago):
Police have confirmed via social media that this line is for ALL hate crimes, not just racist hate crimes. Phone the non-emergency number 101 and select option 2
Jack in Sydney in Australia wrote (154 days ago):
let the poor divils live in peace as if life is not hard enough, havin too put up with this nonsense. think of the rest of us, your brothers, sisters, aunties and uncles that have left and gone to live in other countries how would they feel if it was happening to them . suit them better to go and get a job then they wouldn't have as much time on their hands
Ballysillan in Ballysillan wrote (154 days ago):
The problem lies with the courts they are way to soft when the police get them to court. A hate crime as yous call it should be a min 7 years 3 1/2 in jail the rest on licence. A murder charge should be life meaning life. People need to stand up and report anything they know about these crimes no matter how silly it may be to them. These people are thugs that dont work sell drugs and rule by fear. Put them where they belong in jail.
Sandra McKenna in Carrickfergus wrote (154 days ago):
What is the number of this new hotline?
Patrick Mcauley in Ballycastle wrote (154 days ago):
I really am disgusted to hear about these attacks on minority groups . My wife is from another country and she and myself are shocked that the scum of the earth are walking the streets attacking vulnerable families that have come here to make a better life for themselves . Can you imagine Caucasian from north Ireland overseas being treated like this. I am sure there would be a outcry . I think I can speak for my community by saying we welcome you to live along with us regardless of your color creed or race or sexuality . In my town we have many people form different backgrounds and I must say the people in Ballycastle should be proud cause we welcome our brothers and sisters from overseas My message to the people targeting these family's Get a life think how you make your community look like Racism has no place in society
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