The number of people charged in Kirklees with racially aggravated crimes is falling.
Prosecutions dropped to 43 in May 2015, compared to 75 the previous year and 63 in 2012-13.
The drop in the number of charges, which cover all racist offences including acts of violence, verbal assaults and arson, has been seen in all but two wards in the area, Greenhead and Crosland Moor and Netherton.
But an academic and a community leader have questioned the data, obtained via a Freedom of Information request.
The largest falls were seen in Newsome, where charges dropped from 26 in 2013-14 to eight in 2014-15 and in Dewsbury East where charges fell from 11 to five during the same period.
The most recent figures mark a drastic change from the year before when the rate spiked at a total of 75 due to more charges in some locations such as Newsome, which doubled from 13 to 26.
Kris Christmann, a research fellow at the Centre for Applied Criminology at Huddersfield University, said: “It’s difficult to explain but the important thing to remember is that the overwhelming majority, 75%t of incidents, aren’t reported to the police.
“We may be seeing some impact from Kirklees Council’s work with the police through their hate crime reporting scheme and better policing but rather than being reflection of the reality these figures probably relate to differences in communities’ attitudes to reporting.”
Moulana Hashim Sacha, chair of Rabetah, a group of Islamic scholars promoting peace and community cohesion was more optimistic but still exercised caution over the data.
He said: “Rabetah and other groups have been working very hard over the last few years to promote understanding and relations and I have noticed how communities have become more integrated.
“At one time there was a lot of segregation but it seems that we are learning to live together and people are more educated now.
“However, I have heard from some people that they don’t go to the police anymore because they say they have reported crimes before and nothing has been done about it.
“And perhaps some people don’t report incidents because they feel too afraid to.
“I would urge everyone who becomes a victim to report it to the police because the force can only take action and improve its response if it has evidence of crimes occurring.”
Supt Ged McManus said the police had various measure to tackle racist crimes.
He said: “West Yorkshire Police takes hate crime extremely seriously and is committed to tackling this issue which we know has historically been under-reported nationally.
“It launched a joint hate crime campaign with the Police and Crime Commissioner last year to raise awareness of what constitutes a hate crime and to encourage reporting.
“Racist behaviour has no place in our communities and we all have a part to play in challenging it.
“While the figures provided show a decline in people charged with offences that have taken place in the last year, it must be remembered that some of these more recent offences will still be under investigation and not yet at the charging stage.”
He said that the Kirklees force employs two specialist hate crime co-ordinators who carry out investigations, work with authorities and victims, have spearheaded an Independent Scrutiny Panel and carry out awareness sessions.
HATE CRIME FACTFILE
A total of 127 public order offences, 40 acts of violence and 14 acts of arson and criminal damage , all racially motivated, resulted in charges in the last three years.
The number of charges in Batley West and Holme Valley North dropped to zero in 2014-15, while only one charge was made in Colne Valley, Batley East, Holme Valley South and Dewsbury South.
Wards connected to the highest number of charges in 2012-13 were Newsome (13), Dewsbury East (12)and Lindley, Liversedge and Ashbrow (5).
The only ward to have seen a rise in the number of charges within the three years is Greenhead, where one offence led to a charge in 2012-13, a number that rose to four in 2013-14 and five in 2014-15.
Charges made in Crosland Moor and Netherton have remained static across the period at two per year.
Victims wanting to report a hate crime should call 101 or 999 in an emergency but can also go to Kirklees Council’s crime and safety webpage to report a crime online or in person at several centres.