THE number of hate crimes reported in Torfaen rose by 86 per cent last year, according to a report.

Councillors considered the findings as part of an annual report into its four-year strategic equality plan.

The programme, which runs until 2020, aims to eliminate discrimination and make the county a safer place to live and work.

It also aims to offer equal opportunities to a diverse workforce and improve access to council buildings and services.

But the report, which will be made public on April 1, revealed large increases in the number of recorded hate crimes in Torfaen between April 1 2016 and March 31 2017.

During that period Gwent Police recorded 277 racial hate crimes – a 93 per cent increase on the 143 recorded in 2015/16.

Homophobic hate crimes rose by 24 per cent from 49 to 61, while hate crimes relating to disability rose by 200 per cent from 15 to 45.

Transphobic hate crimes went from four to 10 – a 150 per cent spike – while religious hate crimes rose by 250 per cent from two to seven.

In total the number of hate crimes recorded in 2016/17 was 400, up from 213 in 2015/16.

The report says that the spikes in crimes could be a by-product of an increase in recognition and recording of hate crimes through officer training.

The force also observed spikes in recorded hate crimes during Hate Crime Awareness Week, and an increase in the wake of the EU Referendum result which was seen across the UK.

Speaking at full council on Wednesday, leader Cllr Anthony Hunt said: “The increase is quite concerning. It’s good that we’ve got a plan in place to try and tackle it.

“Crime statistics being what they are they could either indicate increased reporting or awareness but these are people that have been subjected to quite disturbing incidents that must be really impactful for them.”

Labour Cllr David Daniels, cabinet member for communities, told members that increased training and awareness could see the number of recorded hate crimes in Torfaen increase again in the report for 2017/18.

The council’s equalities plan also involves better work to prevent violence against women, domestic abuse, and sexual violence.

The report reveals in 2016/17 that there were 82 initial and 36 repeat multi agency risk assessment conferences (MARACS), which manage high risk domestic abuse cases, with two serial offenders being identified.

But independent Cllr Ross Kemp asked about the work being done to deal with domestic abuse cases against men.

“Yesterday I had another male coming to me suffering from harassment and domestic abuse from a female and I brought this to the council on more than one occasion,” he said.

Cllr Kemp was told by an officer that cases involving men were included within the authority’s agenda.

Cllr Daniels added: “I recognise that this is an area that is perhaps overlooked as the focus is quite rightly on the numerous women subject to domestic abuse. However, that’s not say that the abuse that men are going through is any less.”

On the topic of accessibility, Labour Cllr Collette Thomas said the £25,000 dedicated to dropped kerb provisions was not enough.

“It’s one of the biggest complaints in my ward when people are not able to get from one part of the ward to another,” Cllr Thomas added.

Labour Cllr Fiona Cross, cabinet member for environment, said: “It’s a long time ago since we reviewed this so it’s probably worth having another review of it in the future.”