West Yorkshire Police have recorded a big rise in the number of arrests for online hate crime in the past five years.
Figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act showed that arrests under a section of the Communications Act 2003, have shot up from 162 in 2012-13 to 236 in the 12 months up to June this year.
Hate crime is defined as any criminal offence which is perceived by the victim, or any other person, to be motivated by hostility or prejudice based on their race, religion, sexuality, or disability.
To further investigate the types of online hate crime West Yorkshire Police has introduced sub-categories including faith and disability.
Assistant Chief Constable Catherine Hankinson, of West Yorkshire Police, said: “The force has made improvements to how information about hate incidents is recorded.
“A number of sub-categories for the recording of faith and disability hate crimes are being introduced to get a better understanding of the impact of national and international events on local communities and improve and target services for victims.
“As part of our commitment to making communities safer and feel safer, West Yorkshire Police is committed to engaging with communities to increase the under-reporting of hate crimes and hate incidents.”
The figures come as West Yorkshire Police continue to raise awareness of hate crime and how to report it through its ongoing ‘Hate Hurts’ awareness campaign in partnership with the police and crime commissioner.
The campaign aims to give people a better understanding of what hate crime is and encourage victims of hate incidents to report them.
West Yorkshire Police employs specialist Hate Crime Co-ordinators across districts in order to assist investigating officers in identifying perpetrators, providing support for victims and to work with communities to increase awareness.
They also engage in joint working with partners such as local councils, Victim Support and the numerous community based West Yorkshire third party Hate Incident Reporting Centres (HIRCs).
To report non-emergency hate crime go to www.westyorkshire.police.uk/hatecrime