EFFORTS to 'break down barriers' have been highlighted following the 'very concerning' increase in hate crime in Warrington.

There were 94 recorded hate crimes in the town in quarter one this year, compared to 71 in the same period last year – an increase of 33 per cent.

During Monday's executive board meeting, executive board member for personnel and communications Cllr Hitesh Patel's quarter one 2018-19 performance report came before members.

The report highlighted the latest hate crime figures, as well as the work of the Cultural Commission.

It said: "There have been 94 recorded hate crimes this quarter one, compared to 71 in quarter one last year.

"Of the 94, the highest proportion (as with previous years) is racist/faith-related crimes at 66 per cent (62), followed by 24 per cent (23) disability, and 10 per cent (nine) homophobic/transphobic.

"A key focus is to monitor and increase the confidence of people in reporting disability/mate crime."

In relation to the Cultural Commission, it added: "The commission received feedback from a public consultation exercise that took place during March and commissioned a cultural asset review by the Audience Agency.

"The report recommended a culture board (a steering, overseeing body) was formed and a culture consortium to deliver the recommendations made, including a Local Cultural Education Partnership, development of existing assets (Pyramid, Parr Hall, Warrington Museum, Contemporary Arts Festival) and new assets (theatre)."

Cllr Tony Higgins, executive board member for leisure and community, has responded to the hate crime figures.

He said: “The increase in hate crime is a national trend and is obviously very concerning.

“To think that some members of our society are targeted simply based on bigotry is disgusting.

“I’m immensely proud of the work being done daily by our council’s neighbourhood team, who are delivering many community initiatives to break down barriers, and the continuing success of the Mela festival that embraces all aspects of society to build cultural bridges and better community cohesion.”

The quarter one position was 'noted' by the executive board.