Almost half these attacks have been perpetrated against young people in their own communities.
The statistics come from a recent Freedom of Information request, detailing the number of attacks, clearance rates, geographic distribution of the attacks and age breakdown of the victims.
The request was made after conversations with young people involved in Public Achievement’s WIMPS (Where Is My Public Servant?) project showed that they were dismayed and disgusted at the levels of paramilitary violence in their communities, and felt that young people in particular were being targeted. They were also worried by their perception that politicians and police seemed to be turning a blind eye to these attacks.
In all, 272 incidents were identified as ‘paramilitary-style’ attacks from 1 January 2008 – 31 December 2010.
In addition to the low clearance rates, it was found that 47% of attacks were carried out against young people under the age of 24, with 121 of the identified 272 incidents.
Paul Smyth, Director of Public Achievement, the youth focused charity that runs the WIMPS project, said today: “These attacks are a blight on our society – and it is not acceptable that the clearance rates are so low. If it were older people or people from ethnic minorities who were the subject of these attacks, there would be a public outcry. This hidden problem illustrates that this society has little commitment to the human rights of young citizens. It is a disgrace.”
According to PSNI statistics, the total number of racist hate-motivated crimes in 2008/9 was 96, with a detection rate of 12.5%; in 2009/10 there were 115 racist hate-motivated crimes, with a detection rate of 16.2%.
Geographically, North and West Belfast and the Antrim, Carrickfergus, Larne, Newtownabbey area have the highest concentration of incidents. Of the 272 incidents identified, 12 have been cleared; 3 in 2008 and 9 in 2009.
According to the PSNI FoI request, these figures may change as these incidents may still be subject to ongoing investigation and could be detected in the future.