Devon and Cornwall Police get race-hate detectives

Two detectives dedicated to tackling race-hate crime have been introduced by Devon and Cornwall Police.

The force said it was aware many victims were not reporting hate crimes and the officers would "professionalise" its approach.

It comes as figures released by the force showed that in Cornwall, from 2005-2010, there was a 12% increase in reported incidents - from 187 to 209.

Across both counties the recorded total dropped overall, from 1,227 to 1,012.

'Don't like change'

Insp Dan Ivey said: "There are a variety of reasons why people don't report to the police and some of those are around a lack of trust and confidence in our abilities to investigate effectively and efficiently.

"What we're looking at doing by the introduction of hate-crime detectives is to professionalise our approach effectively in terms of investigating."

Overall in Devon, the number of reported incidents fell by 33.5% over the five-year period, dropping from 626 to 416.

In Plymouth there was a smaller decline - incidents reduced from 414 to 387, a decrease of 6.5%.

Dean Harvey, who chairs the Council for Racial Equality in Cornwall, said there was under-reporting in rural communities where "at times you can stick out like a sore thumb.... so if there was a reported incident who's it going to come back on?"

Dana, a shop assistant in Plymouth, said she was racially abused by a customer who said "I do not want to be served by the coloured lady".

"It sullied my view on Plymouth for a little while. Down in the South West you're going to have less diversity, so the balance of that is you are going to have people who don't like change."

PC Simon Hill said: "We believe that a victim of a racist crime or incident will have been a victim 20, 30 or 40 times before they will ever report anything to the police."

He said the rise in Cornwall may have been because more people were coming forward to report the incidents and racial tensions tended to increase during times of recession.

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