HATE crime has increased across the region, according to new figures.

A report released yesterday (Thursday, July 19) by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) revealed 1,321 offences in 2016/17 compared to 654 in 2014/15.

John Campion, police and crime commissioner for West Mercia Police, said: “Ultimately, I want our communities to be safer, happier and more united. We can all help to achieve that.

"I have invested in a number of projects, providing a joined up approach to addressing hate crime, and I am reassured by the work of West Mercia Police who are raising awareness and engaging with communities.

"I made a commitment to victims, that they would get an efficient and effective service from the police, and the support to help them cope and recover. Great progress has been made around this, and whilst we are not complacent and there is more to build on, I am reassured that the police are working diligently to prevent and to tackle unacceptable behaviour, and injustices in society.”

A 57 per cent increase was shown in offences nationally between 2014/15 and 2016/17.

A spokesman for the commissioner said that the increased showing a confidence in victims coming forward and an increase in crimes being recorded with a hate marker attached.

The report showed some areas for improvement nationally, the spokesman added, but also evidence of concerted efforts by the police to work with communities and organisations to promote reporting opportunities.

Chief Supt Kevin Purcell, who leads West Mercia Police’s response to hate crime, said: “No-one should be targeted for being themselves and we can never underestimate the devastating effect being a victim of a hate crime can have on people.

"Over the past few years we have worked very hard to raise awareness of what hate crime is and encourage people to come forward and report this to police, working with our partners to make sure support is available.

“We recognise how it important it is in getting our response to hate crime right and are currently carrying out a lot of work to improve this and our contact with victims. We have already made great strides in this but are not complacent and know there is always room for improvement.

“We work very closely with our independent advisory groups made up of representatives from our local communities to ensure our response is appropriate and is considerate to the needs of victims.

"There is no place for hate crime in our communities and I really would urge anyone who feels they have been targeted because of who they are to come forward and report this to police.”