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Police board member questions whether hate stats show full picture

By Laura Lennie, News Staff

A police services board member says she remains concerned about the trend on hate incidents in Hamilton, despite a drop in numbers last year.

Madeleine Levy said she’s disturbed that blacks are still the biggest target for hateful attacks, with the Jewish community being the second most victimized group.

An annual report presented to the board on Monday shows there were 122 hate incidents last year, 11 of which had sufficient evidence to warrant being considered criminal.

That’s down from 2012’s high of 161 incidents, 16 of which were classified as criminal.

“Two years ago, we had a report that said that the mechanism for reporting was going up. One of the issues that I have, are communities frustrated with reporting crimes?” Levy said. “Because there’s a huge difference between a crime that goes to the courts, as opposed to a crime that’s hateful, and so communities get frustrated. The fact is that, although these are personal attacks, whether or not they make it to the courts is an issue for communities.”

Of the 122 hate incidents, 80 related to race or ethnicity, 25 to religion, 16 to sexual orientation and one to disability. The first three have consistently been the most reported categories in hate crime events.

As in previous years, the black community was the most targeted, with 56 incidents, followed by the Jewish community with 23.

Graffiti was the most common of non-criminal hate incidents, accounting for 46 of the 111 documented by police.

Non-criminal hate incidents – or those with bias overtones – mean police can’t prove they were solely motivated by hate, the threshold for laying criminal charges.

“I’m concerned about the fact that we have a community where there are these incidents happening,” Levy said. “These are very upsetting. I would just like to keep tracking this with my time on the board to see, is there a trend that there are less (people) reporting?”

An annual report on youth crime was also presented to the board on Monday.

Youth crime was down 8.6 per cent in 2013 from 2012.

Youth involved in violent crime also dropped to 439 individuals in 2013 from 512 in 2012.

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