Far right groups may be fuelling increase in city race attacks

PROTEST Demonstrators gathered outside the Jami Mosque in Southsea last November
PROTEST Demonstrators gathered outside the Jami Mosque in Southsea last November

People told not to be alarmed by armed police officers on patrol

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FAR right groups are thought to be one of the causes behind a rise in race hate attacks in Portsmouth, The News can reveal.

New figures show that 455 incidents were reported to the city’s Racial Awareness Service over a nine-month period – a 25 per cent year-on-year rise.

Police also say hate crime – which includes those targeted because of their race or religion – went up by 16 per cent in the city to 317 last year.

Fareham, Gosport, Havant and Waterlooville also saw a nine per cent rise in hate crime.

It comes as an investigation by The News on pages 12 and 13 today reveals how one man has been the victim of seven race attacks in less than two months since opening his store in Ludlow Road, Paulsgrove.

Nanda Vayanaperumal has been subjected to racist abuse, had paint thrown at his store, his car tyres slashed and windows smashed at the Danny Mart.

Sharon Furtado, who manages Portsmouth City Council’s Racial Awareness Service, said: ‘The rise (in race attacks) could be due to a whole host of reasons.

‘Last year we had the elections and the British National Party and far right groups had more of a platform to express their views.

‘Some times people listen to them and it touches a chord with them.

‘It could also be down to the recession and there being a feeling that immigrants are coming in and taking jobs. We don’t know what the trigger is that makes someone decide to act.’

Last November, up to 100 people were involved in a demonstration at the Jami Mosque in Victoria Road North, Southsea.

The protest was sparked after a small group of Muslim extremists – not from Portsmouth – burned poppies in London during the two-minute silence on Armistice Day.

The English Defence League was blamed for organising the protests, which resulted in several arrests and charges.

Criminals face more serious penalties if the crime is found to be racially aggravated. A person convicted of actual bodily harm faces up to five years in prison, but if it is racially aggravated the offender can be jailed for up to seven years.

Chief Inspector Karen Scipio said: ‘Crimes aggravated by racial hatred are not only upsetting for the victims they’re also damaging to our wider communities.

‘We will continue to work hard to engage with the public and encourage victims of hate crime and people who witness it taking place, to come forward and report all incidents to us.’