A RECORD-BREAKING level of hate crime in Barnsley communities has resulted in a police boss urging more victims to come forward - alongside a vow that more will be done to stop incidents from escalating.

Between April and June last year, 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.

Latest figures, which run from July to September last year, reveal 176 incidents were recorded in Barnsley.

More than half - 58 per cent - related to race, followed by sexual orientation, disability and religion.

It’s led Dr Alan Billings, South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, to issue a plea to victims to continue coming forward on what is Hate Crime Awareness Week.

He said: “This week aims to highlight ways in which crimes can be reported to help police paint a full picture of the areas they patrol, as well as raising awareness of what is classed as a hate crime.

“Hate crimes are defined as any crimes that are targeted at a person because of hostility or prejudice towards that person’s disability, race or ethnicity, religion or belief, sexual orientation or gender identity.

“Engaging with people from minority groups of all kinds - of ethnicity or religion or gender or ability - is a key part of my role and provides the opportunity to listen first-hand to the experiences of people and how hate crimes and incidents impact their lives.

“We want to prevent low-level incidents escalating into major crimes and I urge anyone who experiences hate crime in any form to report it to the police or anonymously, via Crimestoppers.

“Victims of hate crime can report directly to the police on 101 - always call 999 in an emergency - or to third-party reporting centres, where victims can remain anonymous if they wish.”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.

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

However, less than five per cent of all sexual orientation hate crimes led to a charge or summons last year, figures revealed.

Obtained through a Freedom of Information request, stats show there were 701 sexual orientation hate crimes recorded.

Of those, just 29 - the equivalent to four per cent - led to a charge or summons.

At least nine per cent of the incidents were dropped because a suspect could not be identified, and the victim did not support any further action being taken against the alleged perpetrator.

A further 111, or 16 per cent, were closed due to evidential difficulties despite a suspect being identified and the victim supporting action.

Robbie de Santos, the director of communications at LGBT charity Stonewall, said the police must do more to investigate the crimes and improve the low number of charges.

“We need a greater commitment from the police to take decisive action to follow up and investigate these offences,” he said.

A Home Office spokesperson added: “The government takes all forms of hate crime seriously, including homophobic, biphobic and transphobic hate crimes.

“We expect the police to fully investigate these hateful attacks and make sure the cowards who commit them feel the full force of the law.”