HATE crime in Cheshire rose by almost 15 per cent last year, with disabled children among those targeted.

Police figures contained in a report to Cheshire and Chester West Council’s People and Overview and Scrutiny Committee revealed 2,686 incidents were recroded during the 12 months up to September last year, a year-on-year rise of 14.4 per cent.

The council is currently updating its hate crime strategy following consultation with focus groups.

According to the figures:

  • 1,638 were classed as racial hate crimes – 61 per cent of all hate crime cases.
  • 48 were classed as religion or belief hate crimes – 15 per cent fewer than the previous year.
  • Anti-Muslim offences accounted for over half of religion or belief hate crime offences, followed by a fifth that were anti-Semitic.
  • 420 offences of disability hate crime were recorded, a 22 per cent increase. Nearly a fifth of victims were aged under 15. This is in contrast to the national figures which fell by nine per cent.
  • 499 hate crimes were recorded against people due to their sexual orientation.
  • There were 77 transgender hate crimes recorded.
  • A quarter of all hate crime victims had been targeted more than once, the report said.

Cheshire West and Chester is updating its hate crime policy and a report to the committee said its three priorities are to prevent hate crime, increase reporting and improve the response, with all three aspects forming the basis of a detailed action plan which is currently being developed.

Speaking about the draft report, Cllr Bob Cernik, Cabinet Member for Children and Families, said hate crime had a 'devastating' impact on victims and 'divided communities'.

He said: "This strategy provides the framework to enable us to deliver a hate crime action plan across Cheshire West and Chester and sets out how we will work with our partners and stakeholders to deliver against our agreed priorities.

"We also hope that it will serve to raise awareness of what hate crime is and give people the confidence to report it, and that it will result in our borough being an even safer and happier place for everyone."