SECTARIAN HOT SPOT

Derry is the sectarian hate crime capital of the north, police figures reveal.

The PSNI’s most recent statistics show that in the year 2010/11 there was a total of 198 “offences recorded with a sectarian motivation” in the Foyle area - that’s around four offences each week.

Derry’s MP Mark Durkan says the number of recorded sectarian incidents is concerning - and may be understating the problem.

“Any incident of hate crime is wrong and figures which suggest a higher reported incidence of sectarian hate crime here should be a cause for particular concern,” he says.

The PSNI figures, broken down by Stormont constituency areas, show four more sectarian offences were recorded in Foyle last year than in North Belfast, a noted flashpoint which had the second highest number of sectarian offences..

Mr Durkan says the figures may not reflect the true extent of sectarian crime in Derry.

“Some have told me that they do not always report such incidences to the police either through fear or frustration.

“Of course we appreciate the demands on the Police Service, resource pressures and the constraints which would inhibit their response at a given time or locality.

“But we should never discount the cruelty of hate crimes, the violation and vulnerability felt by victims or the cynical power of intimidation and abuse being exercised by perpetrators.”

The number of offences recorded last year is up from 136 in the previous twelve months and three times the number of sectarian offences recorded in 2008/09.

Police say the figure for last year maybe so high because the city hosted major parades on both July 12 and August 12.

A PSNI spokeswoman says police remain committed to cutting sectarian crimes in the city.

“We will continue to work with the community to address this issue. However it is not a problem that can be solved solely by police,” she says.