Northamptonshire Police is looking at disbanding its hate crime unit, the force has confirmed.
The review has been prompted by a report from the Northamptonshire Police and Crime Commissioner’s office, which recommended the best way of handling homophobic, racist and anti-disabled crimes in Northamptonshire - of which there were 443 last year - was to give advanced training to 1,500 officers.
But leaders of Northamptonshire Rights and Equality Council said they had concerns as to whether the potential move would increase the number of solved crimes. Anjona Roy, chief executive of NREC, said: “The specialist unit is all about coming at often endemic issues over a long period of time and across several agencies.
“Training lots of officers will certainly increase awareness, and I’m sure reports of race hate incidents will rise.
“But we’re concerned it will not have a positive effect on actually resolving hate crimes.”
Although the unit has only six officers, the force maintains disbanding it would provide useful savings as it seeks to save £23 million over five years.
Pledging any decision would be regulalrly reviewed, Assistant Chief Constable Russ Foster said: “[The extra training] means we now have more people trained and able to respond to hate crimes. Given we now have a greater capability to deal with such crimes, it seems logical that we review whether there is a need for a small unit solely dedicated to these sorts of incidents.”