Police register big rise in hate crimes

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Oslo police registered 176 reports of what they classified as “hate crimes” in the Norwegian capital last year. That’s triple the number registered in 2013 and police are encouraging victims to continue reporting such offenses.

Police in Norway are encouraging residents to report crimes believed to be motivated by racism, prejudice and intolerance. PHOTO: Justisdepartementet

“We’re actually satisfied that the number of crimes reported has tripled during the past three years, from 55 in 2013 to 176 last year,” Monica Lillebakken, leader of the Oslo Police District’s group concentrating on hate crimes, told news bureau NTB this week. “Since this is an area where many crimes go unreported, this is a development that we want.”

Hate crimes are defined as criminal acts tied to the victims’ ethnicity, religion, sexual preference or physical handicaps. The victims’ own description of how they experienced the assault, and what they think motivated it, determines how the police classify it.

In some cases, the code attached to the crime can later emerge as invalid if the police investigation finds that the crime was not motivated by hate or prejudice. Lillebakken said that police in Norway nonetheless urge victims to report crimes they believe were spurred by their race, religion or appearance.

“We want people to report these crimes so that we can highlight the extent of them,” Lillebakken told NTB.

She said cases of harassment and violence directed at people with dark skin were the most common in Oslo last year, “and not only on social media but also in public places, like downtown or in the victims’ own neighborhoods.”

The new numbers were contained in the Oslo Police District’s most recent report on hate crime. The 176 crimes reported last year compared to 143 in 2015 and 68 in 2014. Half of the reports were registered by police themselves who intervened in incidents, while the rest were filed by the victims themselves.

Police reported that of the hate crimes filed last year, 102 took place on the streets, 33 at bars or nightclubs, 27 on social media and 14 at schools or workplaces.

Around half of the reports filed resulted in criminal charges and punishments handed down by the court.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund