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Last Updated: Tuesday, 12 October, 2004, 15:24 GMT 16:24 UK
Race hate crime 'up tenfold'
Verbal abuse and hate mail are included in the incident figures
A 'staggering rise' in race hate crime is suggested by a tenfold increase in referrals to Victim Support in the past ten years.

In the last 12 months, the UK charity helped 33,374 people in England and Wales, who believe they were victims of racially-motivated crime.

It compares to 3,072 race crime referrals in 1993 to 1994.

The group says changes in the way crimes are recorded is a factor, but it is still worrying.

'Staggering rise'

Victim Support spokesman Andrew Buckingham said growing confidence in reporting race crime and more focused police activity after the Macpherson report had played their part.

"But having said that, it is a particularly staggering rise suggesting race crime must have gone up as well," he added.

There has been a change in the way racially-motivated crime is recorded following the Macpherson report into the murder of black teenager Stephen Lawrence in 1999.

1993/94 - 3,072
1998/99 - 5,269
1999/00 - 10,828
2000/01 - 20,508
2001/02 - 23,130
2002/03 - 20,950
2003/04 - 33,374

The report made 70 recommendations for improving police attitudes to racism.

Racially motivated crime covers a wide-range of offences for including racial abuse on the streets or harassment in the workplace.

Mr Buckingham said victims have had race hate leaflets or letters sent by extreme political groups.

In other cases, dog faeces has been put through people's letter boxes.

"These attacks really can have an absolutely devastating effect on people's lives and on the community they live in, " he said.

"It is an attack on the very identity of a person. "

"Harassment is often not a one-off offence, and it could go on over weeks, months and even years, gradually wearing people down. "

The Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) set up to tackle racial discrimination and promote racial equality, described the figures as "worrying".

A CRE spokesperson said the figures reinforced anecdotal evidence that racially motivated crimes seem to be increasing.

"Figures could also show that ethnic minorities are feeling more confident in coming forward to report these crimes."

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