THERE were 1,863 racially-motivated hate crime reported to Avon and Somerset Police between January and August - up 20 per cent on the same period last year.

Police say the increase reflects a growing intolerance for such offences and a boost in victims' confidence in coming forward.

Figures also show 72 per cent of hate crime recorded over the period was racially-motivated, with Black Asian and Minority Ethnic communities the main target.

Other categories in the total 2,599 hate crimes were sexual orientation (13 per cent); disablist (10 per cent); gender and religion (both three pere cent); and transgender (two per cent).

But police believe hate crimes against Muslim, Jewish and Polish communities are underreported due to cultural and language barriers and a lack of awareness of available support.

Cases against people with disabilities and transgender communities are also under-reported.

Force hate crime lead Supt Andy Bennett said: "National Hate Crime Awareness Week offers an opportunity for us to open up the dialogue about hate crime, to explain and understand what a hate crime is, and to stand by those affected by these crimes.

"It also encourages us to consider how we are responding to hate crime when we witness, or are turned into victims of hate.

"This helps us to ensure people continue to report hate crimes and that victims are receiving the support they need.

"I am encouraged by the numbers. They suggest more people are feeling empowered to open up discussions about hate crime and are encouraging each other to report to us when they have been victimised for who they are; what their sexual and/or religious beliefs are, and/or for what they look like.

"I know how damaging hate crimes can be to our communities, and how destructive they can be to someone’s psychological health and well-being. We must put a stop to it.

"Hate crime is not limited to physical abuse. If someone harasses you, and/or shouts abusive language at you in the street, then this is also a hate crime.

"Posting offensive, abusive, and hurtful content on social media platforms is also considered a hate crime.

"Tackling hate crime is a top priority for our police force. We need to celebrate the cultural, religious, and historical diversity of our region, and work together to put an end to hate crime. We want to remind you that you are not alone and we are here to help you.

"It may feel like you want to ignore this type of behaviour, or think it’s ‘normal’ and brush it off.

"However, if you are subjected to these types of crimes, we would urge you to report them to us as soon as possible.

"Your voice will be heard and we will investigate all hate crimes that are reported to us.

"If you aren’t sure whether it is a hate crime or not, we would still encourage you to speak to us so we can fully investigate the incident.

"If you or someone you know has been a victim of hate crime, you can report this by calling 101.

"Always dial 999 in an emergency. You can also report hate crime online at"