Better data needed to fight race crimes

THE British Home Office has recorded a startling rise in racially or religiously aggravated crimes in England or Wales since June’s Brexit vote. The office recorded an increase of 41% in July, 2016, compared to July, 2015.

Better data needed to fight race crimes

This is a startling acceleration and points to an undeniable and worrying influence behind the “Leave” vote. Britain is not alone. All across Europe, an age-old nastiness, an age-old hatred of the other, is reasserting itself. The refugee crisis playing out so vividly in continental Europe is the key that opened this dangerous Pandora’s box, but a racist response will exacerbate the situation rather than resolve it.

But what of Ireland? Are racist crimes on the rise? Unfortunately, it’s impossible to say because the collection of data on these crimes is at best haphazard. Central Statistic Office figures dealing with the second half of 2014 showed that garda figures routinely under-reported crime — by 38% in the case of assaults. That data, however, did not even have a category dealing with race or hate crime. It is impossible to imagine that Ireland is free of such dreadful abuses but unless there is an official set of figures, a Government response is more than unlikely. Support groups have long argued that these crimes are under-reported. This lacuna does not reflect this society where the majority of people oppose racism or bigotry. Government should move quickly to close this loophole because growing immigration is now a reality of our lives.

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