Hidden race hate crimes involving “home-grown neo-nazis” are on the increase in the North East, according to a leading academic.
Researchers said they have discovered a “growing attitude of intolerance and violence” in the region and expressed fears over the growing scale of the problem.
The warning comes as a 29-year-old was arrested a week ago over allegations he threatened an Oslo-style bomb attack on Muslims in South Shields. Just days earlier, anti-terror police arrested two men over the posting of alleged racist postings online.
Dr Bankole Cole, a reader in criminology at Northumbria University, has researched the topic of racial hatred in the North East for the Ministry of Justice and the Northumbria Local Criminal Justice Board.
Dr Cole said: “Racial hatred is a serious issue. My colleagues and I have researched racism in the North East and what we’ve found is that there has been an increase, although we did not compare our data with other counties, so we cannot say whether the problem in the North East is bigger than that in other counties.
“Some people think there is no racism here as you don’t hear so much about it, but there is a problem. Statistics from the North East show it’s often against the Asian community rather than blacks. There are some predominantly young, male home-grown neo-nazis.
“In the North East there has always been a big population of immigrants. We’ve always lived with people of other ethnicity and yet these race hate crimes are happening more. I think there’s a growing attitude of intolerance and violence, which can manifest itself in this way.
“The internet is the medium that many use and I’m happy that the police are moving into that area and they should be commended.”