Police hotline set up to deal with anti-Chinese abuse

By Emily Thomas
Newsbeat reporter

image copyrightThinkstock

Racist attacks and other crimes against Chinese people are so widely under-reported that one police force has set up a special help line.

Lancashire Police fear they are not hearing about hate crimes like stone-throwing and attacks on restaurants.

A phone hotline was set-up this week.

Detective Inspector Laura Lawler says this is because "Chinese people are not forthcoming with their issues."

She adds: "Students and takeaway owners are particularly vulnerable".

image captionRonny told Newsbeat how he experienced racism growing up

Police think the Chinese population, of about 6,000 in Lancashire, are reluctant to get in touch for two reasons: the language barrier and their culture.

Jerry Yang is coordinating the volunteers for the new helpline.

He says he has "experienced and witnessed some anti-social behaviour activities against Chinese people including myself, and so have some other Chinese friends of mine."

He says most of this was not reported, "because of the culture and language barrier, also the lack of confidence in police."

DI Lawler agrees this a problem, and says "very little crime is reported".

She says many in the community don't fully understand what constitutes "hate crime" and it is students and restaurant owners who seem to be affected most.

"Chinese restaurants have issues with rowdy behaviour, people who make off without paying for their meals, damage to the properties, and quite a bit of abuse by drunk people and antisocial behaviour".

"The students in Preston get targeted at certain times of the year, when they arrive in the country with their phones and laptops.

"One [student] was telling me they were riding their bikes and they had stones thrown at them and another said 'well the same thing has happened to me but I just thought that is what happens when you ride a bike in this country.'"

Earlier this year, Newsbeat spoke to young British Chinese people about their experiences of racism.

Ronny, 25, grew up in the north east of England and says he was one of 10 or 15 Chinese people in his town at the time.

"The first few friends that I made gave me the nickname 'Chink' and I was called that for a good five years."

A 25-year old, who didn't want to give her name, had been assaulted twice in the past "for my heritage."

Her mother had also been attacked, "one time even resulting in a bottle of urine bring dropped on her. Our takeaway has been vandalised countless times."

image copyrightLancashire Police

Young British Chinese people told us crime often goes unreported because people are reluctant "to make a fuss", and there's also a lack of trust in the police.

DI Lawler says that mistrust isn't a failing of the force: "It's just been very difficult to build it - and that's on both sides really.

She says Chinese people "are very respectful and don't want to bother us unless it's deemed to be very urgent.

"But when they do contact us, they expect an immediate response and when they don't get that, they don't ring us back again".

The Lancashire police helpline has so far received just one call - the report of a theft.

It was launched on Monday and is open every day of the week from 10 to 8pm, staffed by volunteers - most of them students who speak Mandarin.

The idea is to help and advise the Chinese community on reporting crime.

"I was expecting it would take maybe a week or so for someone to get the confidence to pick the phone up, so for someone to do it in the first couple of days is really, really good."

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