The number of hate crimes being reported in Staffordshire and South Derbyshire has surged following the three terrorist attacks the country has seen in the last year, statistics reveal.
Data released by Staffordshire Police and Derbyshire Constabulary have shown a dramatic increase in hate crimes in the categories of race, religion, sexual orientation, disability and the transgender community.
Between August 2016 and July 2017, there were 1,622 recorded hate crimes across the Staffordshire Police area – an increase of 394 compared to the same period in 2015/16 at 1,228.
Between January and July this year, a shocking 1,009 hate crimes were reported to police, showing a rise of 264 incidents compared to the same time frame in 2015/16 at 745.
The figures showed race as being the most targeted category, showing an increase from 959 to 1165 between 2016/17.
A hate crime is an offence where the perpetrator is motivated by hostility. The offence is usually violent and can have a devastating impact on the victim and their families.
Staffordshire Police's Supt Carl Ratcliffe said: “We monitor spikes in reported hate crimes, which may occur as a response to national events such as the recent terrorist attacks in other parts of the country.
"Whilst we have seen an increase in the number of reported hate crimes in Staffordshire, far too many still go unreported.
"We urge anyone who is a victim of such incidents, whether verbal or physical, to get in touch with the police on 101 so that we can offer them the appropriate support and take action against those responsible."
In Derbyshire, the increase in hate crimes seen between 2016 and 2017 was slightly less – seeing a rise of just 62 in a year, from 537 to 599.
Derbyshire Assistant Chief Constable Bill McWilliam said: "Crimes based on hatred must never be tolerated and Derbyshire Constabulary, together with partner agencies and communities, will do everything we can to tackle all forms of hate crime, whether it is related to someone’s race, religion, sexuality, disability or how they dress.
"I would encourage anyone who feels they have been a victim of hate crime to come forward and speak to us.”
Recently, the Crown Prosecution Service has announced that it is reviewing plans to treat online hate crime as seriously as offences carried out face to face.
The government body reported that hate crime sentence uplifts increase nationally from 11.8 per cent in 2014/15 to 33.8 per cent in 2015/16, the highest proportion to date.
It said the impact of spreading abuse online can be just as devastating as shouting it in real life.
Revising its guidance for prosecutors, the offences include wrongdoings against bisexual people for the first time.
Staffordshire Police say they have had 215 charges brought for hate crime offences in the last 12 months and 186 charges in the year before that, an increase in 16 per cent.
Chief Superintendent Moore said: "Staffordshire Police works closely with other partners to offer support to those affected by this type of crime.
"We are pleased and support the CPS policy update on this that recognises that online crime can be just as impactive on victims as offline crime, and that it also recognises bi-phobic crime."
The figures have been released as part of Hate Crime Awareness Week.
"The Hate Crime Awareness Week is a great way to increase the visibility of support that is offered and that this type of crime is not tolerated within our communities," Chief Supt Moore added.