The number of hate crimes reported in Dundee fell after last year’s EU referendum, the Tele can reveal.
Figures obtained from Police Scotland show that in the 12 months after the referendum in June, 138 hate crimes were reported in the city — 30% fewer than in the same period before the vote.
The fall went against trends seen elsewhere in the UK. Some areas of England and Wales saw an increase of up to 40% in the months after the referendum.
Nineteen hate crimes were reported in Dundee in June 2016 – the highest monthly figure reported that year.
About 72% of hate crimes were successfully detected in the last two years.
Stuart Waiton, senior sociology lecturer at Abertay University, said despite tensions building across the UK around the time of the referendum, the country has never been more tolerant.
He said: “It’s possible that Dundee is a more tolerant place than other parts of Scotland and indeed the UK, although why this would be is not clear. It could be to do with the relatively small number of black people living here and the lack of a sectarian issue. It’s worth noting when looking at hate crime that it is a highly subjective type of ‘crime’, with hate incidents being anything that anyone thinks it is.
“There does not need to be any proof of an incident for it to be recorded by the police. Worryingly, this potentially inflates the sense that society is full of hate, racism, homophobia etc when most serious research suggests the exact opposite is the case.
“Perhaps a more interesting question to ask would be why politicians promote the idea of the problem of hate across Scotland and the UK when in the real world — pre and post-Brexit — we have never been more tolerant.”
A spokeswoman for Police Scotland encouraged any victims of hate crime to come forward.
She said: “Our role as a police service is to ensure that all our communities are safe and feel protected and all reports of hate crime are robustly investigated, with those responsible brought to justice.
“We actively encourage people to come forward and report if they have been abused because of any characteristic and we hope that more people are doing so rather than staying silent thinking nothing can or will be done.”
Alan McCloskey, Victim Support Scotland director of operations, said: “We welcome the recent drop in reported hate offences in Dundee.
“However, it is widely accepted that the real levels of hate crime are far higher than reported in official statistics, as a significant number of hate crimes go unreported.
“We must address the barriers that prevent victims from reporting crime. One hate crime victim is one victim too many.
“We would encourage victims of hate crime to come forward, have confidence that they will be believed and supported by our trained staff and volunteers.
For more information visit https://www.victimsupportsco.org.uk/