Hate crime reports ‘very high’ in Thurrock

Thurrock has a high rate of reported hate crime compared with other areas in the east of England, it’s been claimed.

Michelle Cunningham, community safety partnership manager, attended a meeting of Thurrock Council’s hidden and extreme harms committee to give an update on hate crime and Prevent.

This is a Government-backed scheme designed to identify and tackle radicalisation and extremism that can lead to hate crime in communities across the country.

Speaking at Tuesday’s meeting, Ms Cunningham did not supply specific figures however, she said: “It’s a measure that’s looked at every quarter. They do an average and Thurrock has very high reports in regards to hate crime, which for me and the police, we encourage.

“We do an awful lot of work around encouraging people to report hate crime.”

A report to the committee said the national terror threat level remains as substantial meaning that an attack is likely but with “no greater risk to Thurrock than other areas of the UK”.

Despite high hate crime reports, Thurrock has the lowest Prevent referrals of hate crime across the Eastern Region over a 12-month period and is below average. Levels of both would usually be expected to be similar.

Ms Cunningham revealed the borough has 262 hate crime ambassadors compared to about 800 across the whole of Essex. She added: “That’s a lot of people trained and supporting people to make official reports to the police.

“It’s a very hidden crime. It does go unreported and we know we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg. The bit against that is we have a very low referral rate of Prevent. Our Prevent referrals are very low. It’s that balance between them and there is the question that if you’ve got such high hate crime you should have higher Prevent referrals.”

Gary Collins, chairman of the committee said: “My concern is when people say it’s a hate crime it might be just a misunderstanding between two people and it doesn’t necessarily mean there is an underlying hatred going on.

“Neighbours fall out with each other from time to time.”

However, the committee heard definitions of hate crime were very clear.

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Christine Sexton

Local Democracy Reporter