The number of recorded cases of hate crime across Sussex has risen by more than a third over the last year, Sussex Police said this week.
During the period April 2014 to March 2015, the total number of recorded crimes rose from 1,009 in 2013/14 to 1,352 in 2014/15, an increase of 34%.
We have worked hard to raise awareness of hate crime
The number of non-crime hate incidents also rose during the same period, from 299 in 2013/14 to 447 in 2014/15, an increase of 49.5%.
These cover incidents where behaviour does not constitute a criminal offence but is perceived to have been motivated by prejudice or hostility.
Police say this reflects a greater awareness in reporting hate crime.
Chief Superintendent Wayne Jones, force lead for hate crime, said: “We know hate crimes and incidents in Sussex have been under reported - our goal remains to build confidence in victims to come forward and speak to us which is why I welcome these increases.
“We have worked very hard, both internally and externally to raise awareness of what constitutes hate crime and how people can report it to us.
“I am confident that the positive work we have done is a significant factor in the increased levels of recorded hate crime.
“I do acknowledge however, that events that occur outside Sussex, and sometimes outside the country can have an impact on the incidence of hate crime within the county.
“Our Neighbourhood Policing Teams are firmly embedded in local communities and work with them to offer reassurance and support.
“If you have been a victim of or have witnessed a hate crime of any kind, I would urge you to call us on 101 or 999 if it is an emergency.
“For those who would prefer, you can use our online reporting form http://bit.ly/1fTDYJhwhich can be found at www.sussex.police.uk.”
Sergeant Peter Allan, force hate crime sergeant for Sussex Police, said: “I am very pleased to see that we have recorded more hate crimes and incidents over the last year, especially in the area of disability.
To enable us to tackle this most personal of crimes and support victims, we need people to come forward to report incidents to us. I would urge them to do so.”