MORE hate crimes were recorded against Chinese people in Cumbria in the first three months of 2020 than in either of the two previous years.

There were five reports of hate crime against Chinese nationals in 2018, six in 2019 and seven reports between January and March this year.

Six of this year’s reports were racially or religiously aggravated public fear, alarm or distress whilst the other was racially or religiously aggravated harassment.

But a police chief said the figures were 'relatively low' in comparison with the rest of the UK.

Detective Chief Inspector Furzana Nazir, force lead for hate crime, said: “Nationally there has been an increase in the number of hate crimes being reported against Chinese nationals which are being linked to the current pandemic.Within Cumbria this figure is relatively low."

“As a force we recognise the impact of hate crimes and we have a robust plan in place to tackle all forms of hate crime," said Det Chief Insp Nazir,

"We work with professional partners, local patrols and have experienced detectives to tackle more serious hate crimes.

"All reports of hate crime are taken extremely seriously."

The figures came from a Freedom of Information request.

A spokesman for AWAZ, a charity which champions ethnic groups in Cumbria, said: “This is a worrying trend, particularly at this very challenging time of Covid.

“Hate crime has a devastating effect on people and communities and our local area is not immune to it. Racist abuse seems to be on the increase over the last few months during the Covid crisis. In Cumbria there isn’t much done to tackle the root causes of hate crime, ignorance, lack of understanding and working together in terms of the agencies responsible for making environments conducive for integration.”

The coronavirus outbreak started in China with the first case reported in Wuhan in December.

To report a hate crime, call police or contact the True Vision website