A FIFTH of investigations into racially and religiously-motivated hate crimes were closed by Wiltshire Police with officers unable to identify a suspect.

Of 410 reports to the county force in the 12 months to September 2018, police were forced to drop probes into 84 cases.

Wiltshire Police said many of these investigations concerned abuse yelled down the street or criminal damage incidents like graffiti.

Supt Dave Minty said: “We take all reports of hate crimes very seriously and these figures should not discourage victims from coming forward.

“In this case a good proportion of the crimes with ‘no suspect identified’ are criminal damage incidents (graffiti) and unknown suspects shouting abuse in the street, these crimes are often difficult to detect with little detail to go on.

“That said, just because it may be difficult doesn’t make it any less important and we will still take appropriate action to identify and prosecute those who act in such a cowardly and despicable manner.

“Our communities can also help by coming forward with any information. We know that hate crimes are typically under reported and we urge people to contact us on 101 or 999 if it is an emergency.”

Ishak Mogul of the Swindon Muslim Council encouraged victims to report hate crimes to the police.

“Only then can we know the size of problem. A lot of families are concerned about reported the aggression because they may know or can identify the aggressor. Hence a lot of the crime goes unreported,” he said.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission described the figures, which were analysed by the Press Association, as disappointing, adding that victims of these offences often don't report what has happened to them "as they feel that the police won't take the incident seriously or have the power to act".