MORE than a quarter of all hate incidents in Worksop during the past 12 months were against Polish people.
Insp Steve Cartwright (pictured) said there were 55 hate incidents in West Bassetlaw - which include race, disability, sexual orientation and religion - and 29 per cent of those were against Poles.
He said: “They are the group that are targeted most now, followed by Asians and then black Afro-Caribbeans.”
“It’s disappointing that some bigoted individuals in Worksop feel it appropriate to target Polish nationals who have every right to live in our community and who are making a worthwhile contribution to our society.”
“But it’s encouraging that the 16 Polish families who have called us have some confidence in the police and that we will take it seriously and do something about it.”
Insp Cartwright said there was “quite a large” Eastern European population in Worksop, although it was difficult to know exactly how many because figures weren’t collated. But he said: “The majority population in Worksop is still white British.”
“The reason Polish people have come over here is to make a better life for themselves over here while times are hard in Poland.”
“We are not seen as a free meal ticket, they work long hours and they put in more hours than some of our own national residents do.”
Insp Cartwright said the majority of incidents were verbal, like name calling with obscenities such as “get back to your own country”. There had also been cases of stones being thrown at houses accompanied by racist remarks.
He said: “We haven’t seen any serious assaults, it hasn’t escalated to violence.”
“If we have sufficient evidence to charge then we always do and we have and if say, someone damages a car and it is a racist attack, it will be classed as an aggravated offence and will carry a higer penalty than if it was just damage.”
“We work with the victims robustly to challenge this kind of behaviour. We find that people who commit these race crimes can have a deep-seated hatred and just advising them doesn’t always work.”
He said Worksop was no worse for attacks on Polish people than other towns.
Two Polish women are working voluntarily with Worksop police, one to help Polish victims of crime and the other to help with putting posters up in Polish asking for feedback from the community.
Insp Cartwright said: “We have access to an interpreter through our language line but we find most of the Polish people can speak some English or are learning English and want us to speak to them in English.”
“This is contrary to what some people believe, that they just stand and speak Polish all the time. They are actively trying to speak, read and write English.”
He said there was no particular Polish ghetto in Worksop and that families intermingled with the native population. As with any community, some Poles had been involved in crimes and appeared in court, but they were no more of a problem than other groups. As with any community there are a proportion of people that commit crime,” he said.
Their drinking culture led to higher levels of alcohol being found in drink drivers, mainly because they tended to favour vodka and spirits over the lagers and beers of British drinkers, he added.