Clampdown on bigotry sees 27 lifted

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Nearly thirty people have been arrested in the North West following a PSNI bigotry clampdown launched in the wake of a “significant increase in racist” incidents province-wide last year.

Between November 2014 and June 2015 there were 27 arrests for hate crimes in the recently dismantled G District policing area, which spanned Londonderry, Limavady, Strabane and Magherafelt.

Thirteen of these were for sectarian incidents and 14 for racist crimes.

That was less than in Belfast and the old E District of Craigavon, Armagh, Banbridge and Newry and Mourne.

But it was more than in C District, D District, F District and H Disctict.

Seventeen files were forwarded for potential prosecutions in the wake of the 27 arrests.

The PSNI said Operation Reiner was designed to deliver a more focused apporach to race hate.

The PSNI explained: “Following a significant increase in racist hate crime during the first quarter of 2014, we took immediate action and launched Operation Reiner to provide a co-ordinated approach.

“The strategic aims of Operation Reiner were to pursue all investigative lines of enquiry, give a further level of rigour to current investigations and ensure we were addressing the police response to racist hate effectively.

“We also created the specialised non-emergency 101 option 2 telephone number to make it easier for people to report hate-crime - it offers a function to translate calls into fifty languages.

“Since its launch 328 hate crime related calls have been received via this means. In November 2014 we introduced a new management structure for hate crime.

“This is based on the Gold/Silver/Bronze command structure.

“Ownership passed to District Policing Command, with ACC Stephen Martin assuming Gold Command and Superintendent Paula Hilman Silver Command.

“Engagement continues from day to day involvement at an operational level between policing teams, communities and vulnerable groups.

“Also at strategic level at Gold and Silver Command we are working closely in partnership with a number of NGOs, voluntarty groups and National Consuls.”