Hate crimes are more likely to be carried out when people are drunk, with the alcohol acting as an "igniter" to expressing prejudice, a study has found.
Researchers from Cardiff University interviewed people attending accident and emergency with injuries from violence in three multicultural British cities.
They found that 18.5% of the 124 patients considered themselves to have been attacked by people motivated by prejudice and that alcohol intoxication accounted for 90% of these attacks.
Professor Jonathan Shepherd, director of the Cardiff University Crime and Security Research Institute, said: "A striking aspect of the study was the discovery that most attacks weren't fuelled by hate alone; alcohol appeared to act as an igniter.
"Our findings suggest that tackling alcohol abuse is not only important in regards to the health of individuals but also to the health of our society.
"Additionally, we have learned that emergency room violence surveys can act as a community tension sensor and early warning system."
The survey was carried out in Cardiff , Blackburn and Leicester, with the cities chosen because all three are home to multicultural, multi-ethnic and multi-religious populations.
Of the 23 people who claimed the attack on them was motivated by prejudice, seven said they thought their appearance was the motive, five suggested racial tensions within the communities they lived, three mentioned their place of residence and eight cases were attributed to the race, religion or sexual orientation of the victims.
All 23 attacks took place away from the victims' homes.
Many of them viewed limiting alcohol consumption as a good strategy to reduce the risk of attacks.
:: The research paper Injury resulting from targeted violence: An emergency department perspective is published in the Criminal Behaviour and Mental Health journal.
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