Thursday 25 December 2014

700pc gap in reports of racism to gardai and PSNI

Clodagh Sheehy

Published 13/01/2014 | 02:30

Denise Charlton, Chief Executive of the Irish Immigrant Council pictured with some balloons before they were released  as part of  EU Anti-Trafficking Day. Photo: Frank Mc Grath
Denise Charlton, Chief Executive of the Irish Immigrant Council pictured with some balloons before they were released as part of EU Anti-Trafficking Day. Photo: Frank Mc Grath

A MASSIVE 700pc gap between racist incidents reported to gardai and those reported to police in the North has prompted a call for an urgent review of reporting in the south.

The figures suggest that many victims in the south "are still choosing to suffer in silence rather than come forward," according to the Immigrant Council of Ireland, which has reviewed statistics for the two jurisdictions.

In one year the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) recorded 1,038 incidents compared to just 128 by gardai.

Denise Charlton, chief executive of the council, said the figures supported research by the council that racism in Ireland "is going unreported with victims reluctant to come forward because of fears they will be regarded as troublemakers."

Some victims are also afraid, she added, that their complaint will not be taken seriously because of a previous experience with corrupt police in their country of birth.

Official figures show that 69 racist crimes were reported in the south last year compared to a high of 214 in 2007 and 100 in 2012. They included 13 cases of minor assault, six cases of criminal damage, 37 public order offences and 13 other offences.

DISPARITY

The PSNI reported 750 racist incidents and 1,372 sectarian incidents last year.

Ms Charlton says through their own reporting system -- stopracism@immigrantcouncil.ie -- the State had an 85pc increase in cases in the past 12 months.

The council points to the "very serious questions" raised by the disparity between figures north and south, regarding "the way incidents are recorded by gardai and the Department of Justice", saying it "suggests a lot of racism is going unreported".

Ms Charlton has called for the introduction of an independent reporting system, "where victims can come forward with confidence and be assured that they will be offered support and advice."

In the North, she stressed, victims had access to a 24-hour online reporting system operated by the PSNI where they could detail and categorise the nature of the crime.

"As a country we cannot continue to ignore the abuse, threats and even violence being carried out against people in our local communities, on our streets, at work, on sports fields and many other places.

"It is time for Ireland to send out a message that in 2014 there is no acceptable level of racism."

Irish Independent

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