HATE crimes – which have increased by almost a fifth in recent months – will be prioritised by police in Barnsley due to reports now reaching a five-year high.

Between April and June, complaints relating to hate crime – which includes racial slurs to derogatory remarks about sexual orientation – rocketed by 16 per cent from 162 to 188, continuing its year-on-year rise.

According to figures obtained by the Chronicle, 58.8 per cent of reports lodged with Barnsley officers related to race, with disability accounting for 21 per cent and 15.6 per cent owing to sexual orientation.

South Yorkshire Police’s neighbourhood teams – based in the town centre, Cudworth, Goldthorpe, Hoyland, Kendray, Penistone and Royston – now manage their own locally-recorded hate crime incidents.

A police spokesperson said: “Hate crime remains a priority area of focus within Barnsley, led by Chief Inspector Mark Goddard, who is also the force lead for hate crime.

“Between April and June 2022, 188 hate crimes were recorded, an increase from 162 investigations in the previous quarter.

“From November 2021 to January 2022, 145 hate crime were recorded in the town – a figure that has remained relatively stable with previous quarters.

“All hate crimes are now managed by neighbourhood policing teams, allowing for a greater level of victim safeguarding and reassurance.

“Victim satisfaction is above the force average with an increase of six per cent from the previous quarter.

“Those surveyed identified that they were happy with the initial contact (85 per cent) and the way they were treated (88 per cent).

“In consideration of arrest rates compared to the national picture, the force was recording an arrest rate of over 46 per cent.

“This remains high in comparison to the national picture – as it has done in the last two years – which the latest figures suggest to be under 30 per cent.”

Reports of homophobic hate crime have climbed dramatically, according to a Freedom of Information request to the force, which saw records almost double from 364 in 2018 to 715 in 2021.

The level of police-recorded hate crimes in South Yorkshire has been increasing since 2015/16, it confirmed.

Chf Insp Goddard added: “Annual figures show that all hate crime offences are on the rise, including where victims perceive sexual orientation to be a motivating factor.

“The rise in reporting is down to a number of factors, including better education and previous under-reporting of hate crime.

“We continue to work hard to engage with local communities to encourage them to report any incidents of hate crime and to work towards tackling these issues.

“Any complaint made to us will be taken extremely seriously and treated with the utmost respect.

“I would encourage anyone who is experiencing verbal abuse, harassment, intimidation or violence to report it to us so that we can tackle it effectively.”