A BIG leap in the number of racist incidents recorded by a police force was revealed yesterday, bucking the national trend.

Cleveland Police logged 581 incidents in the year to March, up 18 per cent on the previous 12 months and taking the increase since 2009 to 28 per cent.

The rise in 2010-11 was far larger than those recorded in North Yorkshire (nine per cent) and Northumbria (six per cent), while County Durham recorded a 23 per cent fall.

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The Northern Echo: Race hate incident table

Only Norfolk (29 per cent) and Gwent (26 per cent) recorded bigger increases than Cleveland.

Across England and Wales, the number of racist incidents dropped by seven per cent.

A spokeswoman for Cleveland Police said: “Cleveland Police work hard to ensure its communities have the confidence to report incidents of this nature, safe in the knowledge that we will investigate them in a thorough and professional manner.

“Through the efforts of local Neighbourhood Police Teams working with communities and partners, we have consistently seen crime fall across all categories in recent years, with increased detection rates and this has contributed towards the force being voted top of the confidence leagues in April.

“During 2011, we increased efforts to engage with our diverse communities and promoted the True Vision website as a means of reporting incidents.

“While any rise in such incidents is disappointing, we believe it is a sign of the public’s increased confidence in Cleveland Police to report these incidents and we will continue to respond promptly and effectively to keep our communities safe.”

Meanwhile, figures also released yesterday, showed that the number of recorded disability hate crimes rose by more than a fifth last year.

Across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, police recorded 1,569 incidents where the victim thought the alleged crime was motivated by their disability, compared to 1,294 in 2009.

The Association of Chief Police Officers said the rise could be explained by the fact that disability hate crimes had been “significantly underreported in the past”.

A spokesman said officers were committed to “building victims’ confidence and improving our recording practices so that more victims can access the service they deserve”.

However, a spokeswoman for the Equality and Human Rights Commission said its evidence, to be released next week, showed there was still significant under-reporting of the harassment of disabled people.

She said: “Often there is a failure by authorities to recognise that these crimes may be motivated by hostility towards disabled people, so it may not be recorded as hate crime.”