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Last Updated: Monday, 1 August 2005, 18:34 GMT 19:34 UK
Race crime doubles across region
Leeds mosque
A mosque in Leeds was subjected to an arson attack on 8 July
The number of racially-motivated incidents reported to police in Yorkshire has soared in the past year.

Figures show that incidents more than doubled across the region between the end of March and 20 July 2005 compared with the same quarter in 2004.

The survey includes a period after the 7 July London bombings, three of which were carried out by West Yorkshire men.

Police admitted the rise could be down to the attacks but said victims were also now more likely to come forward.

We are hoping we do not get to a situation where people are cornered
Shakeel Meer, Leeds Racial Harassment Project

In West Yorkshire, there 306 incidents reported compared with 153 in 2004. South Yorkshire Police reported a similar rise, from 149 to 351.

Police in North Yorkshire dealt with just 15 racist incidents in the same quarter in 2004, compared to 43 in 2005.

Sayeeda Warsi, vice-chair of the Conservative Party, said: "Whatever period these figures relate to they are disturbing. Any increase in race-hate crime is disturbing.

"But let's not forget that the majority of Britons have responded to the 7 July in a very positive way and there has been a very unified response.

"I think we should really use 7 July as a benchmark to make community relations better thereafter."

Backlash fear

Shakeel Meer, director of the Leeds Racial Harassment Project, said he now feared an organised backlash orchestrated by extreme groups.

"We are hoping we do not get to a situation where people are cornered," he told BBC News.

"We are looking to make sure the police have the right intelligence and we're working alongside them to anticipate those situations and deal with them before they arise.

"One of the positive things to come out of this is that there has been more co-operation between agencies and there has been more work done in the communities and they themselves are looking to address these issues," he added.


SEE ALSO:
Residents join in march for peace
23 Jul 05 |  West Yorkshire
Tory urges talks with extremists
19 Jul 05 |  UK Politics


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