THURROCK has the highest rate of hate and racial hate crime in Essex, according to police figures.

The number of incidents reported to police involving race, religion, sexual orientation and disability is not only significantly higher than any other district in the county, but has also increased 17 per cent in the last year.

There were 94 hate crimes recorded altogether in Thurrock during 2011 up to 133 instances in 2012.

The figure was the highest of any district in Essex. Brentwood had the second highest number of hate crime cases altogether in 2012, with 98.

Reports of sexual orientation hate crime are also up by five in the last year, with only Colchester seeing more crimes of this type for the 2012 period.

In 2011, Thurrock also had the highest rate of non-hate crime, 26 cases, which includes offences such as name-calling “that do not cause harassment, alarm or distress”.

That increased to 29 during the same period in 2012, but Southend had the most reported incidents in the past year.

While reported instances of transgender and disability hate crime have fallen, the sharp increase in racial hate crime is worrying considering the 2011 census revealed the borough’s black population has increased by 1,500 per cent in ten years.

Mayor Yash Gupta, who is also councillor for the Grays Thurrock ward, moved to the UK from India 38 years ago.

He said: “This is no surprise to me. “In the past, most victims of hate crime were very reluctant to go to the police as they did not think there would be a positive outcome.

“However, after hard work by community workers, victims were assured they must report any incidents of hate crime, so there are now more reported cases with the police, though the number of incidents must be higher in the borough than these reported figures.

“Some good work in this area is going on, by the Safety Partnership Department of the council as well as by the diversity team, supplemented by voluntary organisations such as TRUST, Thurrock Asian Association, Thurrock African Group and other small community groups.

“The police also have a designated hate crime officer who is busy in her job as well.

“Sadly, budget reductions in the council, the police and the voluntary sector are not helping.

“There is no easy or quick solution to this big problem.”