FEWER hate crimes were recorded by police in Gwent last year, despite a rise in incidents across England and Wales.

Nationally offences have hit their highest level on record, with racially-motivated incidents rising by more than 4,000.

Home Office data shows 629 hate crimes were recorded by Gwent Police in 2019-20.

That was down 12 per cent on the previous year, when 715 incidents were reported, but far higher than the 267 crimes recorded in 2014-15.


It was a different picture across England and Wales, where police recorded 105,090 hate crimes in the last year – a record high, and an eight per cent rise on the previous year's figure.

Reports can include racially or religiously motivated assault, harassment and criminal damage.

More than 65 per cent of reports in Gwent related to race, while 22 per cent featured hostility towards someone's sexual orientation.

Deputy Chief Constable Mark Hamilton, hate crime lead for the National Police Chiefs’ Council, said it is concerning to see that people across England and Wales are still being targeted for who they are.

“Over recent years police have worked hard to improve our response to hate crime, including better recording of offences and more training for officers," he added.

“Everyone has the right to live their lives without fear of being attacked, either physically or verbally. Police take all reports of threats and abuse seriously and we will work to bring perpetrators to justice."

The Home Office said the national increase can be put down to improvements in recording and awareness of hate crime, but added genuine rises after events such as the EU referendum in 2016 and terror attacks the following year have also contributed.

Race hate crimes accounted for 72 per cent of the total last year, after rising to 76,070 from 72,041 in 2018-19.

Figures exclude Greater Manchester Police, as the force still cannot supply data due to an error when implementing new IT systems last year.

A separate report published by the Home Office, looking at trends during the coronavirus pandemic, warned that racially or religiously motivated hate crimes in June were a third higher than the previous year and remained high in July.

It said this is “likely to be related to the Black Lives Matter protests and far-right groups’ counter-protests in England and Wales following the death of George Floyd on May 25 in the United States of America”.

Alex Raikes, strategic director of Bristol-based charity Stand Against Racism and Inequality, said the charity saw a "major impact" on its work due to such protests.

"Covid has also led to a spike in attacks on Chinese and South Eastern Asian community members as well as attacks by frustrated ‘locked in’ people on their BME neighbours," he added.

The Home Office said those who commit “hateful attacks should feel the full force of the law”.