Friday brief: Hate crimes rise by more than a third in Northants
Welcome to our new-look Friday brief
Our Friday brief has a new look this week. Following on from reader feedback we are adding in more news about what is happening culturally around the county and we also have a new feature highlighting an independent business.
We hope you like this revamped version.
The number of hate crimes recorded by Northamptonshire Police shot up by 36 per cent in the year ending March 2021.
Home Office figures show that recorded hate crimes in the county increased from 1162 in 2019/20 to 1587 in 2020/21. The biggest rise was seen in homophobic crimes which increased by 48 per cent from 173 to 257. Disability hate crimes increased by 46 per cent during the same period while racially motivated crimes went up by 35 per cent.
Crimes targeting transgender people dropped by 26 per cent and religious hate crimes fell by 29 per cent.
Although Northamptonshire Police is one of just 11 forces to record misogyny as a hate crime, figures for this are not publicly available. When NN Journal asked the force for the data we were told we would need to submit a Freedom Of Information request.
Speaking at an event on treating misogyny as a hate crime organised by Northamptonshire Rights and Equality Council (NREC), Superintendent Sarah Johnson said Northamptonshire Police has been working with the Law Commission on a review into the issue and hopes it will be published soon.
She also spoke about the complexities of recording misogyny as a hate crime as there is currently no official definition which she said results in inconsistencies of how incidents are recorded by the 11 different forces.
Jenny Labbon from NREC said the organisation had tried to build a relationship with the specialist police officers which deal with hate crime but that there had not been much cooperation from the force.
“We represent a wide cross-section of the community directly affected by hate incidents every day. We need to make that relationship work but I don’t see it, I don’t feel it. We’re reaching out all the time.”
Supt Johnson said she would email the officers and ask them to make contact directly.
News in brief:
Anti vaccination protestors set up outside the Thomas Beckett school in Northampton yesterday. Speaking at the monthly Covid oversight meeting the county’s programme director of vaccination Chris Pallot said the anti-vaccination activities had been happening in small numbers at Northamptonshire schools compared to other areas in the country and there had been no major disruption.
He did say a few governors at one school had received letters urging them not to allow the vaccination team into the school.
12 -15 year-olds are now eligible for vaccination. If a parent does not give consent however the child themselves consents and the vaccination can go ahead but Chris Pallot said in those circumstances the county’s health team supports parent and child to come to a joint decision.
There has been tension between West Northants Council (WNC) and the Labour-run Northampton Town Council over the use of the Guildhall. The town council currently rents five offices and the mayor’s parlour at the historic building from WNC. Labour’s Cllr Birch says there have been issues around when the town council can raise flags and have photographs taken on the steps.
The mayor Rufia Ashraf told NN Journal she was also disappointed by costs quoted to her to hire the hall for her gala dinner which she says came in at around £2k.
WNC says it is not aware of any instruction not to take photos and that there is a calendar for flag use. It says it is happy to discuss any concerns with the town council.
An interim Community Foundation Grant policy was agreed at a cabinet meeting for West Northamptonshire Council this week after a six month delay in the authority awarding small grants to local and voluntary organisations.
Cllr Hinch told the meeting that local groups have lacked clarity over what funding would look like and Cllr Holland-Delamere said he was aware of services which had disappeared while waiting for funds to come through.
Regular readers will be aware of our Levelling Up project - a year long series we launched this summer looking at and reporting from the county’s five officially left behind communities.
This week we have been talking with councillors representing the Kings Heath ward in Northampton about holding an event at the community centre next month to hear more of the concerns that residents living in the area have and what things they would like to see change.
Portfolio holders from West Northamptonshire Council visited one of the ‘left-behind’ areas this week. Cllr Matt Golby, Cllr Phil Larratt and Cllr David Smith walked around the Talavera ward in Northampton with local councillor Dennis Meredith to hear about the challenges the area faces.
There was sad news this month as Northampton musician Pat Fish died. A cult hero to many, and widely regarded as a trailblazer who inspired many other musicians, Pat recorded many albums under the name the Jazz Butcher and was signed to Creation Records in the 1980s.
Creation’s boss Alan McGhee called Pat, who was born in London but made Northampton his home, ‘one of the most brilliant incisive pop writers that Britain has produced since the glory days of Ray Davies and Pete Townshend.’
His death on October 5th prompted hundreds of people from across the world to share their memories of the musician who was described as someone with ‘charisma to burn’ and spoke of how his music had become a soundtrack to their lives.
During lockdown he played some live gigs from Fishy Mansion - you can take a look on YouTube below. If you are not aware of his music we’d recommend having a listen.
🎵 There are still tickets left for West End star Lee Mead’s show running at the Castle Theatre in Wellingborough on Sunday. Find out more here: https://www.parkwoodtheatres.co.uk/castle-theatre/Ticket/890fc1e5-4930-eb11-aa01-cb1d73e8d7cf/lee-mead-my-band-and-me/748804
🍲 A vegan market will be held on Northampton Market Square this Sunday between 10.30 - 4pm. Head down for a wide selection of vegan street food, artisan bakers, craft brewers, ethical jewellers, local artists and more.
🚂 Step back in time with a 1940s weekend at Rushden Transport Museum and Railway. There will be live music, food, a vintage market, re-enactors and model coach.
Independent of the week
☕ Saints Coffee Shop, Northampton
The owners of Saints describe their coffee as tasting good but also doing good. Not only is this a great spot to take a break from shopping or to meet friends and work colleagues over a drink, it is also a social enterprise with community at its heart.
Ben and Nicola, who opened the shop earlier this year, are passionate about making a social impact and have already set up a number of projects including a fortnightly women’s walk and events in schools to “de-mystify and open up access” to elite universities.
The coffee is ethically sourced and is also available to buy online from their website: www.saintscoffee.co.uk
Saints is at 62 St Giles Street, Northampton.
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