Unacceptable and won't be tolerated.

That's the message from key agencies in Southampton as reports of racial hate crime increase across the county.

As the nation reels from the racist abuse suffered by three of England's footballers, analysis of the latest figures reveals how racial hate crime increased in Hampshire in the four years before the coronavirus pandemic.

Home Office data reveals a record number of race hate crimes were recorded by police forces in England and Wales in 2019-20 – the latest available figures.

Hampshire Constabulary recorded 1,804 crimes during the period – an increase of 45% compared to 2015-16, when 1,244 incidents were reported.

Across England and Wales, police recorded 76,070 racial hate crimes in 2019-20 – the equivalent of more than 200 a day, and the highest number since comparable records began in 2011-12.

The rise was partly down to improvements in recording and an awareness of hate crime, the Home Office said.

It also said events like the EU referendum in 2016 and terrorist attacks in 2017 were likely to have had an impact.

But Victim Support said other factors, such as the murder of George Floyd by a policeman in America last year, had driven a further increase in reports.

The charity said it was "extremely saddened and appalled" by the abuse suffered by the three England football players following Sunday's match.

Jo Parks, services director, said: "We’ve been concerned to see rising reports of race hate crime throughout the pandemic and have seen significant increases in the number of victims coming to us for support.

"These hate crimes have had a damaging impact on victims' safety and sense of self-worth, which can take years to re-build."

In Hampshire, Superintendent Sarah Jackson said: “Every report of hate crime is taken seriously and investigated appropriately. These figures can be viewed as a positive consequence of an increase in trust in our communities who report incidents.

“We know hate crime is still under reported and so we urge anyone who has been a victim to report it. This not only allows us to investigate it, but it also provides us with a clearer picture of what is taking place in communities so that together with our partners, we can respond and take action.

"We will not tolerate hate crime anywhere in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. Any crime perpetuated through ignorance, prejudice or hate is unacceptable. We want people to feel confident in reporting it to us when it happens."

Councillor Spiros Vassiliou, cabinet member for communities, culture & heritage said: “Southampton is a diverse place, a City Of Sanctuary and hate crimes of all forms will not to be tolerated.

"Through increased awareness of hate crimes and signposting to pathways of support such as the ‘Love Don’t Hate’ crime reporting app, this may have influenced the increases of hate crime reports.

"This in itself is a positive step as it highlights the positive impact of enabling those who are affected by such crimes to have the confidence to come forward and allows the police and partners to work together, support victims and better understand and address these issues.

“We also work closely with our partners Spectrum Centre for Independent Living who support the Southampton Third Party Hate Crime Reporting network to provide a range of safe spaces where people can report experiences of hate crime even if they aren’t comfortable reporting through the usual channels.

“If you see, or experience a hate crime, please call it out and report it. People can do this by downloading the Southampton Hate Crime Network 'Hate Crime - Love Don't Hate' app today: Search ‘Southampton Hate Crime’ on Google Play and Apple App Store.”