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Last Updated: Thursday, 31 March, 2005, 08:24 GMT 09:24 UK
Call for race crimes crackdown
Racist graffiti in Porthmadog, 2003
There have been racist incidents in Porthmadog
A Welsh police force is calling for racist criminals to get longer sentences when they go before the courts.

North Wales Police said more severe punishments were one of the measures needed to deal with the problem of racism in rural areas.

The force dealt with more than 300 racially motivated crimes last year.

Deputy Chief Constable Clive Wolfendale said: "The damage these crimes can cause is staggering."

Sirajul Islam, who own a restaurant in Porthmadog in Gwynedd, said he had been the victim of a racist attack in 2003.

"We had our front door broken into," he said.

Picture of rural Wales
Police have said racism is often worse in rural areas

"Two or three days later, we had a phone call in the restaurant saying 'Didn't you get the message? We don't want any Muslims in Porthmadog.'

"We didn't expect anything like that in a small place like Porthmadog."

Mr Wolfendale said victims often suffered more from racist crimes due to the nature of the offence.

He added the problem can be made even worse in rural areas because the ethnic minority population is small and the issue could remain hidden with crime going unreported.

"If you wake up one morning and your car windscreen's been smashed and there's some daubing on the car which suggests the attack has been committed because of who you are, that crime will have a completely different impact on you.

"It will cause you to worry for your family's sake - you'll probably lose sleep."

Clive Wolfendale
Clive Wolfendale called for longer sentences for racist criminals

Mr Wolfendale added there was concern racist criminals did not always receive sentences which reflect the nature of the crime.

He said: "The powers are there and they are clear - that offences of whatever type which are aggravated by circumstances of racism ought to carry a heavier penalty and it's important that it happens.

"There are many reasons why sometimes it doesn't, but the criminal justice system as a whole should steel itself to accept the problem and deal with it."

Brian James, a magistrate in Llandudno, said training was given to deal with racist crimes.

"We use a guideline system which allows us to use racial (elements) as an aggravating factor and we have guidelines which are specifically for racially-aggravated crimes," he said.

"Guidelines give us a basis for a consistent approach to sentencing and we are, in my opinion, adequately trained and adequately advised."

Racist graffiti attacks on shops
12 Aug 03 |  North West Wales

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