Police in West Yorkshire raise concern over impact of protests on Leeds despite hate crime drop

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More than 2,000 incidents of race hate crime in Leeds were reported to West Yorkshire Police in the last 12 months - and the force says that this still isn’t the full picture.

This week, top officers expressed concern that recent events in America may have an impact on the diverse communities that make up our vibrant city.

Recent figures show that in the last 12 months up to May 2020, a total of 2,141 race related crimes in Leeds were reported. For the whole of West Yorkshire, that figure was 5,845.

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Compared to the same period for 2019, these figures are down from 2,391 and 6,034 respectively, but police say there are concerns that protests and heightened emotions following the death of George Floyd while being restrained by police will have an impact on communities across Leeds.

Protests following the death of George Floyd have put a new focus on the race agenda.Protests following the death of George Floyd have put a new focus on the race agenda.
Protests following the death of George Floyd have put a new focus on the race agenda.

West Yorkshire Police, Assistant Chief Constable, Angela Williams said: “We do not underestimate the impact that recent events in America will have had on our communities and we continue to take every opportunity to listen, learn and improve to tackle bias, racism and discrimination wherever it occurs.

“In particular, we have undertaken considerable work with partner agencies to encourage the reporting of hate crimes, ensuring that incidents are investigated and recorded appropriately.

“Each of our policing districts have a dedicated hate crime co-ordinator and hate crime scrutiny panel in place involving independent members of the public and partners allowing for continual development and improvement.

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“It is encouraging that over the past two years, we have seen a reducing trend in hate related incidents across the county, however, we realise that this may still not paint the full picture and we are not complacent.”

The news comes as representatives from the black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) community say that racism is still “embedded in the system” within Leeds and cross section education is the key way to address it.

West Yorkshire Police says it is working “extremely hard to make sure that we are representative of the communities we serve”.

Ms Williams added: “Although we have seen an increase in the proportion of Police Officers from a Black, Asian and Minority Ethic (BAME) applicants over recent years, we know that there is still more that can be done. During our recruitment drives, much has been done to address this and we are beginning to see the benefits of the approach.

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“For instance, we have offered BAME applicants mentoring support and held local recruitment seminars. In addition, we have forged stronger partnership links with local Universities, attending graduate recruitment events and Placement Fairs.

“Likewise, we have Positive Action Ambassadors and Community Engagement Officers who are actively working to improve BAME representation among prospective candidates.

“We know that reflecting all demographics creates trust between our officers and communities, as well as positive role models and this is our continued goal.”