'Racially aggravated hate crimes on the increase' – Channel 4 documentary series features Wiltshire 999 services

Written by Sue Round on .


According to the fourth series of the hit Channel 4 documentary 999:What’s Your Emergency? which is set in Wiltshire, racially aggravated offences have risen in the county by 40 per cent since the Brexit referendum vote.

This reflects a nationwide trend. Recent terrorist attacks could also be to blame for the increase. In their aftermath the documentary states some areas saw a 500 per cent increase in attacks on racial minorities. There were 15,000 hate crimes prosecuted in the UK in 2016 and the age of the perpetrators is getting younger.

The documentary (Channel 4, Mondays 9pm) follows Swindon and Trowbridge police, paramedics and fire services as they work together to respond to incidents. The personal stories behind what has led the victims, patients and criminals to be the centre of an emergency call-out are revealed.

The first episode of the new series on Monday (July 24) focused on a variety of racially aggravated hate crimes in Wiltshire. These included racist name calling, abusive text messages, bogus accusations from neighbours, physical attacks in shops and in the street.  It also included a nine year-old girl facing racist language for the first time.

PC Dan Lane is worried that there “is a danger of old divides opening up again… Politically we’re being challenged, economically we’re being challenged, culturally we’re being challenged. There’s less about the middle and it’s all about extremes…The lack of acceptance as to who people are definitely shines through. I’d love to say that I think our society is united but I don’t think it is.”

The documentary revealed that there are all sorts of people involved in racist attacks - there is no clear stereotypical perpetrator. It warned against the danger of casual racism which can then become accepted racism.

Future episodes will look at the increase in mental health issues among young men and the rise of hard drugs on the streets - following the story of a drug user whose life is saved by emergency staff.

Staff at Swindon’s Great Western Hospital will feature in the series. Annette Baskerville, Clinical Matron for GWH's Emergency Department, said: “We really enjoyed taking part in the show and hope this gives local people a real insight into the work we do every day.”