POLICE are treating a case of criminal damage in Poole as a possible hate crime.

A car belonging to a disabled woman has been vandalised twice within two days.

On the first occasion, while the disability vehicle was parked overnight in Junction Road, Hamworthy, the bodywork was vandalised. Deep gouge marks were left all along the passenger side and scratches over the bonnet.

There were also gouge marks left on the driver's side along with a number of smaller scratches.

Then, two days later, when the car was parked in the same place, all four tyres were slashed and the rear doors were scratched.

Police Constable Charlotte Harvey, of Poole Police, said: "The victim in this case believes this was a targeted attack because she is disabled and her car is a disability vehicle.

“Dorset Police takes hate crime very seriously, we recognise the distress this has caused to the victim and we are carrying out a number of enquiries to identify who is responsible for causing this damage."

Last year reports of hate crime in Dorset rocketed by 29 per cent.

Figures released in October 2019 showed there were 726 hate crimes reported across the county the previous year, almost a third higher than the previous year and four times higher than the 181 recorded in 2012-13.

At that time the Home Office attributed the steady rise mainly to changes in the way crimes were recorded.

However, Citizens UK, an umbrella organisation of faith and community groups, has said its research suggests levels of hate crime are far higher than those recorded on official data.

On the Junction Road incident, Constable Harvey said: “I would urge anyone with information about these incidents, or who witnessed any suspicious activity in the area on the relevant nights, to please contact us.”

The victim's car was first damaged on the night of Saturday, April 18.

Its tyres were slashed in the second attack on the night of Monday, April 20.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Dorset Police at www.dorset.police.uk, via email 101@dorset.pnn.police.uk or by calling 101, quoting occurrence number 55200056311.

Alternatively, contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or via www.crimestoppers-uk.org