A GWYNEDD supermarket assistant was subjected to a torrent of racial abuse when he asked a group of rowdy youths to leave the store where he was working.
One of the taunts directed at him was that he should “go back to his own country”.
This was one of the many “abhorrent” cases dealt with by North Wales Police in their ongoing battle against hate crime, which sees people being targeted because of their physical appearance, race, sexual orientation or disability.
According to North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Winston Roddick CB QC, the case highlights the importance of Hate Crime Awareness Week from October 10 to 17.
Both he and Chief Superintendent Jeremy Vaughan, who chairs the Equality and Diversity Committee for North Wales Police, have urged more people come forward if they believe they have been victims of hate crime.
Mr Roddick said: “This is a hidden crime because the victim often hides it, but we want to send out the message that they don’t have to suffer in silence.”
Details of the abuse suffered by the Gwynedd store worker were given by PC Rob Newton-Miller, a North Wales Police diversity officer specialising in hate crime.
He said: “The incident happened earlier this year in Gwynedd as the employee was going about his normal duties.
“A group of young males came into the store and began to mess about and become rowdy.
“The man requested them to leave the store and was subjected to abuse which was very offensive and rude and made reference to his ethnicity.
“The abuse, which came in a torrent and lasted for a good few minutes, was heard by quite a few people, including children, as the store was busy at the time.
“The remarks made were really horrific and included one in which the man was told to go back to his own country.”
PC Newton-Miler added: “The incident was reported to the police and the person responsible for the abuse was identified.
“He was arrested, interviewed and, following consultations with the Crown Prosecution Service with whom we work in close partnership, was charged with a racially and religiously motivated public order offence.
“At the local magistrates’ court, the offender was convicted and was fined £90 plus costs.
“The sentence was actually increased when the court accepted that offence was motivated by hatred towards the person’s race and/or religion.
“I think this case shows clearly that hate crime cannot, should not and will not be tolerated in North Wales.”
Chief Superintendent Vaughan said: “Last year North Wales Police recorded 229 hate crimes compared to 217 in the year to date and the current conviction and satisfaction rates are high.
“However, this is a hidden type of crime and one of our key objectives is to encourage more people to report it by increasing the confidence of victims that it will be properly and sympathetically handled by the police when they do.
“We interview victims to test the quality of the service we provide and these interviews show quality is increasing.
“We ensure that victims are dealt with in a sensitive and compassionate way because we realise that people are often do not report hate crimes against them.”
He added: “Of particular concern is disability related hate crime reporting.
“This accounts for about eight per cent of reports in North Wales but we know that the actual number of people who experience this type of crime is far higher than that.
“People should also be aware that there are other ways of resolving hate crime rather than going down the criminal justice route, including restorative justice and joint action by partner agencies.
“My message is that any incident that someone thinks has been caused by their race, religion sexual orientation, disability or general identity they should tell us about it because it’s not acceptable and won’t be tolerated.”
Police and Crime Commissioner Winston Roddick said: “Hate crime means a crime that is perpetrated against someone because of who they are and what they are.
“We take these crimes very seriously and that’s the purpose of National Hate Crime Awareness Week, which is sponsored by the Welsh Government and fully supported by North Wales Police.
“We want to raise awareness of this type of crime because people very often don’t realise they’ve been the victim of hate crime, which means that it is under-reported.
“Once they understand they have been a victim of hate crime we want people to come forward and report it – unless they do that we cannot begin to deal with it.”
Mr Roddick added: “We know there is more of this than we are being told and people are suffering in silence. It’s a hidden crime because the victim hides it.
“But they are not meant to keep it to themselves.
“We want them to share with us the fact that they have been victimised.”
Mr Roddick pointed out that the Welsh Government Minister for Communities and Tackling Poverty, Lesley Griffiths AM, has made funding available to himself and fellow PCCs in Wales specifically to help tackle hate crime.
He has earmarked £1,000 to each of the two Community Cohension Co-ordinators, while a further £500 has gone to Victim Support along with £150 to sponsor the equality and diversity award at this year’s PCC Community Awards in North Wales.