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Last Updated: Monday, 13 February 2006, 07:20 GMT
PSNI host hate crime conference
Police want to raise public awareness about the issue of hate crime
Police want to raise public awareness about hate crime
A major conference on human rights and hate crime is being staged in Belfast by the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

More than 200 delegates are expected to attend the Real People, Real Crime conference, which is being held at the Ramada Hotel on Monday.

The event will coincide with the start of a police poster campaign focussing on hate crime.

Police said the campaign is designed to raise community awareness of the issue.

The conference will be opened by Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde.

Sir Hugh is expected to tell delegates that the issue of hate crime is a growing problem in Northern Ireland.

"The biggest challenge facing the police service is increasing the number of persons detected and prosecuted for hate crimes," he said.

"I recently approved, along with my senior command, the implementation of a new hate incident policy which I believe will deliver a more consistent and effective police response to hate incidents.

"The hate crime legislation recently introduced to Northern Ireland, I believe, creates an opportunity for the courts to send out a very clear message that hate related crimes will not be tolerated."

Other speakers at the conference include Professor Geoffrey Beattie, of the University of Manchester, Dr Duncan Morrow, of the Community Relations Council, and Ms Jane Gordon, human rights adviser to the Northern Ireland Policing Board.

Police figures show there were 697 racial incidents between April to December 2005, compared with 624 incidents in the same period the previous year.

The number of homophobic incidents between April to December was 167, compared with 139 the previous year.

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