BALLYMENA had one of the highest number of recorded hate crimes in Northern Ireland, official figures show.
Statistics prepared for councillors ahead of a committee meeting of Mid & East Antrim Borough Council last night showed the town was ranked number 5 out of 80 electoral areas across NI.
The report did not say where the four areas in Northern Ireland worse than Ballymena were.
There were 289 recorded incidents of hate crime in the whole council area which includes the Ballymena, Larne and Carrick regions.
The breakdown shows that of those there were 159 hate crimes in the Ballymena district electoral area in the 2018/19 year period.
The figures were described as “startling” in the council report.
The statistics show that of the 289 incidents across the Borough 187 were recorded as incidents or crimes with a racist motivation; 86 incidents or crimes with a sectarian motivation and 16 classed as homophobic.
The breakdown of the 159 hate crimes in Ballymena was 126 deemed to be racist; 30 sectarian and three homophobic.
The report said that ‘hate crime happens across the Borough’.
The report revealed statistics regarding the number of incidents and crimes recorded by the PSNI during the 2018/19 year by District Electoral Area.
The report said: ‘The most startling statistic is that Ballymena DEA (District Electoral Area) is ranked with the 5th highest total hate crime in Northern Ireland, with the predominant motivation being race’.
There was no specific Northern Ireland wide ‘league table’ for crimes with a racist motivation to show were Ballymena ranked in that area.
The figures showed that the Bannside electoral area had one of the lowest ranks for hate crime in Northern Ireland – coming in at 74th out of 80.
A report was prepared for councillors regarding a review of hate crime legislation in Northern Ireland
Public consultation closes at the end of the month.
The report says ‘reported levels of hate crimes occurring in Northern Ireland remains stubbornly high’.
The report says that hate crime figures in Northern Ireland ‘have been high for a number of years with just over eight hate incidents reported every day, a higher figure than the equivalent rate in England and Wales’.
The report continues: ‘In 2017/18 racist hate crimes outnumbered sectarian hate crimes for the first time and this trend continued for the most recent figures for 2018/19 with 702 racist hate crimes recorded for that year as compared to 622 sectarian hate crimes in the same period.’
‘These figures can be misleading as they appear to indicate that racial and sectarian hate crimes are similar in frequency but when one considers the statistics in relation to the proportion of the population from a black and multi-ethnic background the reality becomes much more concerning.
‘In practical terms there is approximately a one in 31 chance of being the victim of a reported racial hate incident compared to approximately a one in 1,177 chance of being a victim of a reported sectarian hate incident.’
The report said hate crime is ‘grossly under reported’.
The report continued: ‘As a civic leader, Mid and East Antrim Borough Council proposes to provide support and input to the Hate Crime Review, to enable all our citizens to live in a strong, vibrant, safe and inclusive community where people work together to improve the quality of life for all.”