In Lothians last year police probed 31 reports of hate crime against under-11
21st February 2011: Racism has not spared even children as young as one. Figures, in fact, suggest children at such a tender age too have been the victims of racist abuse.
Figures gathered by the Evening News under freedom of information suggest in the Lothians last year the police investigated 31 reports of hate crime targeted at youngsters aged under-11.
To make the matters worse, the figures reveal that hate crimes investigated in Lothian and Borders rose overall by 8.4 per cent from 1604 in 2008-09 to 1739 in 2009-10.
Expressing concern over the figures, experts say the possibility of psychological damage due to abuse or attacks at such a young age just cannot be ruled out.
Reacting to the statistics, the political figureheads too have urged the Government to clamp down on racist thugs.
Quoting an instance, the report elaborates on a probe into an incident in north Edinburgh. A 12-month-old child was shown as a victim in the area considered the worst area in the Lothians for hate crime against under-11s.
The police have also looked into a race hate crime against a seven- year-old, and a two-year-old, in south Edinburgh.
The statistics also show a 10-year-old in Bathgate was under attack just because the offenders believed the victim was homosexual.
Deeply worried at the rise, Labour’s justice spokesman, Richard Baker MSP, said stricter sentences and robust policing in recent years have apparently failed to act as a deterrent, and may not have had the desired impact.
He asserted it was appalling children have been subject to hate crimes and he was sure this would be met with a huge amount of concern throughout the community.
If adults were committing these crimes against children, it was deeply worrying, he said, adding they should be subject to the full force of the law and the courts should deal with them in an appropriately severe manner.
But if other children are responsible for racist and homophobic crimes, it suggests deep-seated social problem that needs to be dealt with.
He said they had to ask why these attacks have taken place. If other children are behind the attacks, they have to ask how they came to be driven by race and homophobia.
A police spokesman said Lothian and Borders Police would not tolerate hate crime of any nature and would robustly deal with anyone found to be responsible.