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Wednesday, 16 February 2011

One-year-old child suffers racist abuse (UK)

Children as young as one have been the victims of racist abuse, new figures suggested today.
Police investigated 31 reports of hate crime targeted at youngsters aged under 11 in the Lothians last year, according to figures obtained by the Evening News under freedom of information.

Experts have said abuse or attacks at such a young age could cause psychological damage, while politicians have urged the Government to clamp down on racist thugs.

The reports detail one investigation into an incident in north Edinburgh, the worst area in the Lothians for hate crime against under 11s, where a 12-month-old child was listed as the victim.

Police also probed a race hate crime against a two-year-old in south Edinburgh, and a seven- year-old in the same area.

The figures also reveal that a ten-year-old child in Bathgate was targeted because the offenders thought the victim was homosexual.

Overall, hate crimes investigated in Lothian and Borders rose by 8.4 per cent from 1604 in 2008/09 to 1739 in 2009/10.

Labour's justice spokesman, Richard Baker MSP, said the rise was "deeply worrying".

He said that stricter sentences and robust policing in recent years may not have had the desired impact.

He said: "It's appalling that children have been subject to hate crimes and I'm sure this will be met with a huge amount of concern throughout the community.

"If it's adults committing these crimes against children, that is deeply worrying.

"They should be subject to the full force of the law and the courts should deal with them in an appropriately severe manner.

"However, if it is other children that are responsible for racist and homophobic crimes, that suggests deep-seated social problems that we need to deal with.

"We have to ask why these attacks have taken place. If it's other children we have to ask how they would come to be driven by race and homophobia.

He added: "The trends overall are also concerning. We have taken action in parliament in terms of introducing legislation and stiffer penalties on hate crimes, so if despite that we are seeing an increase, then we need to see an appropriate response from the relevant agencies."

A police spokesman said: "Lothian and Borders Police will not tolerate hate crime of any nature and will robustly deal with anyone found to be responsible."