Nation

Study finds two-thirds of hate crimes unreported

WASHINGTON — Despite growing awareness of hate crimes, the share of those crimes reported to police has fallen in recent years as more victims of violent attacks express doubt that police can or will help.

Nearly 2 of 3 hate crimes go unreported to police, the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics reported Thursday. From 2003 through 2006, 46 percent of hate crimes were reported to police. But from 2007 through 2011, just 35 percent were reported.

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There was an increase in the percentage of victims of violent hate crimes who didn’t report the crime because they believed the police could not or would not help, from 14 percent in 2003-06 to 24 percent in 2007-11, the bureau said.

‘‘It’s shocking to see that much of an increase in the feeling of futility that hate crime victims are apparently experiencing,’’ Jason Marsden, executive director of the Matthew Shepard Foundation, said in an interview. Shepard, a gay college student, was killed in a 1998 attack that police said was motivated in part by his sexual orientation. His parents started the foundation.

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Hate groups are becoming increasingly violent, which raises the possibility that victims are afraid to report the acts to police out of fear of reprisal, said Jim Bueermann, president of the Police Foundation, the nation’s oldest police research organization.

The figures in the report come primarily from the National Crime Victimization Survey, which has been collecting information on crimes motivated by hate since 2003.

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