HATE crime is still being largely underreported in the region, according to a prominent community leader.

The message from Lancashire Council of Mosques chairman Abdul Hamid Qureshi comes as the latest figures show reported incidents of hate crime have fallen in East Lancashire and the county as a whole since the controversial EU Referendum result in June.

But Mr Qureshi said that was not a true reflection of the situation and said it would only get worse, especially for Muslims, in the wake of terrorism incidents such as the Berlin truck attack.

Mr Qureshi encouraged victims of hate crime to contact the police or the third party reporting centre Resolve, based at 9a Town Hall Street, Blackburn.

He said: "I think the reason it is falling is because people still don't feel confident coming forward and the third party reporting helpline is still in its fairly early stages.

"But those figures don't reflect what is really going on, especially for Muslims. There is an atmosphere of fear of intimidation. That only gets worse when there are terrorist attacks. At the moment there is an increasing problem of Islamophobia, with women becoming an increasing target."

The statistics, obtained by the Lancashire Telegraph via a Freedom of Information request, show the figures initially rose in East Lancashire in July following the previous month's referendum from 87 to 93. But in August there were 66, 69 in September, 53 in October and just 35 in November.

It was a similar picture in the county overall with a rise from 241 in June to 248 in July. They then fell throughout the rest of the year from 193 in August, to 184 in September, to 161 in October and to 139 in November.

A police spokesman said: "Hate crime in any form is wrong. That is why it is important that if hate crime happens to you or someone you know, that you report it. Sometimes you may feel that the incident is too minor to bother the police but reporting it makes a difference – to you, your friends, and your community.

"Under-reporting is a major issue in relation to all hate crime. Research has established that much higher levels of hate crime take place than are currently reported. By reporting hate crime when it happens, you can help stop it happening to someone else."

To report a hate crime to the police directly call 101 or 999 in an emergency.

Resolve can be called on 01254 292620 or emailed via info@ysyc.co.uk