The number of people aged 18 or under that have been arrested for being racist in the North East has almost doubled in one year.
Figures taken from Cleveland Police show that 56 people under the age of 18 were arrested for being racist in the year 2015/16. One year later, in 2016/17, the number has almost doubled to 98. Incidents included assault with injury, criminal damage, theft and the most common was harassment with 37 people causing harassment in 2015/16 and 53 in 2016/17.
A Cleveland Police spokeswoman said: “Racism is completely unacceptable and there is no place for it in Cleveland. It is important that we show our support to awareness events such as Show Racism the Red Card, and educate people about the consequences of racism, so that people see that it is not tolerated and it has no place in our society.”
She continued: “Three school liaison officers have been funded by Cleveland’s Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger to work within schools, complementing the work already carried out by PCSOs and neighbourhood colleagues to tackle key issues and provide education to help support and tackle those issues.”
Northumbria Police figures show that there were eight racial incidents caused by people aged 12-18 in schools in the year 2014/15. In the year 2015/16 this number almost doubled to 15 and then in 2016/17 the number was 14. Incidents included harassment, provocation of violence, actual bodily harm, criminal damage, assault and threat to commit criminal damage.
In 2015, there were 102 reports of racism made to Northumbria Police about an ethnic minority. Similar to Cleveland, this number almost doubled in one year with 193 reports of racism in 2016. These figures are for all ages not just those who are 18 and under.
There were seven hate crimes in schools recorded by North Yorkshire Police in the years 2015 and 2016. Of those seven, there were six crimes that were racial hate crimes.
Northumbria Police figures also show the number of racial hate crimes that didn’t take place in schools. In 2015, there were 170 reports of racial hate crimes made to North Yorkshire Police. In 2016, there were 207 reports made and in 2017 there has been 126 reports made. These racial hate crimes included criminal damage, bodily harm and other injury, assault with injury, assault without injury and the most common across the last three years was public fear, alarm or distress.
This information comes after a high number of terrorist attacks across the world, including Manchester and London. In 2015, Muhaydin Mire attacked people with a knife at Leytonstone Tube Station in East London while shouting “This is for Syria”. The MP Jo Cox was murdered in 2016. The attack was by white supremacist, Thomas Mair, outside a surgery in West Yorkshire while he shouted things like “This is for Britain” and “Keep Britain independent”. In March 2017, a car driven by Khalid Masood, drove into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge and then crashed into the Palace of Westminster’s perimeter. There was a suicide bomb attack at an Ariana Grande concert at Manchester Arena in May 2017. 22 people were killed in the attack and the youngest was just 8-years-old.
Julie Stevenson, a teacher from St. Bede’s School, County Durham, said: “Racism is something that is not tolerated in our school or within our society. Students who are in school are very impressionable and listen to what is happening in the world through television, radio and social media.
“When there is a terrorist attack in the UK, people tend to get angry and take it personally as an attack on their country. Those that are still in school are no different. In society, we seem to have developed an image of what a terrorist is by judging where they are from, their religion and what they wear and so when teenagers see someone who fits this image they tend to target hate at them.”
She continued: “Of course, terrorism may not be the main reason for young people being racist. There are lots of other factors that are happening right now that may have triggered it.”
Another factor that could be a part of this is Brexit. On Thursday June 23 2016, a referendum took place in the UK to decide whether we should leave or remain in the European Union. More than 30 million people voted, resulting in a 71.8 per cent turnout. The UK decided to leave the EU with 51.9 per cent voting leave and 48.1 per cent voting remain. Most North East authority areas voted leave with just Newcastle voting to remain.
With the rise of social media, it is becoming easier for young people to send hateful comments and opinions. With platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, anyone can share anything online, including racist views and targeted hate.