Hate crimes double in five years in England and Wales | Society

Hate crimes double in five years in England and Wales | Society

UK News

The number of hate crimes reported to police has more than doubled since 2013, according to government figures, which also showed a large increase last year in offences against people based on sexual orientation.

The majority of hate crime offences recorded by police forces in England and Wales were racial – 78,991 – which increased by 11% in the past year.

Transgender identity hate crimes – the least commonly recorded hate crime in 42 of 44 forces – increased by 37% to 2,333 last year. The Home Office figures also recorded a 25% rise in offences linked to sexual orientation (14,491) while disability hate crimes rose by 14% to 8,256.

The steady rise in recent years is partly because of improvements in crime recording, but there were spikes after events such as the referendum on Britain’s EU membership and terrorist attacks in 2017. Part of the increase over the last year may reflect “a real rise” in hate crimes, the Home Office said.

Hate crimes in England and Wales
Hate crimes in England and Wales

Just under half (47%) of religious hate crime offences were targeted against Muslim people (3,530 offences), a similar proportion to last year.

However, hate crimes against Jewish people more than doubled, with 18% of religious hate crime offences targeting Jewish people (1,326 offences), compared with 672 in the previous year.

Meanwhile a large survey by an umbrella organisation of faith and community groups suggested the Home Office figures potentially showed only the tip of the iceberg, after seven in 10 participants said they never reported hate crimes to the police.

Citizens UK, which carried out the survey, released a statement by 18 rabbis, bishops, imams and charity CEOs who expressed “deep concern at the rising tide of fear and division in society and the erosion of trust in public institutions.” They are also calling for inclusion of misogyny as a hate crime.

Matthew Bolton, the executive director of Citizens UK, said: “Communities from across the UK are increasingly concerned that we aren’t going fast enough or far enough to strengthen hate crime protections.

“Political, media and institutional decision-makers need an action plan to stop the toxic mix of scare stories on social media and a divisive political environment, which is providing a breeding ground for hate.”

One elements that emerged from focus groups Citizens UK conducted in a range of cities was how political rhetoric found its way into abusive language on the street.

An example was the use of the word “letterboxes” by hate crime perpetrators after Boris Johnson had used it in a Daily Telegraph column to describe women wearing the burqa, according to Dr Farhan Samanani, an academic who oversaw the study.

There were 103,379 hate crimes offences recorded by police last year, the majority of which (76%) were race related. More than half, (54%) of the hate crimes recorded by the police were for public order offences, a third (36%) involved violence, while 5% were recorded as criminal damage and arson.

Twelve per cent of hate crime offences were estimated to have more than one motivation, with the majority of these being both race and religion.

The rise is partly due to improvements in the way crimes are recorded, but there were spikes after events such as the EU referendum and the terrorist attacks in 2017.

The increases in hate crime against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people may have been caused by higher confidence in reporting, according to the charity Stonewall, but it also said the figures were likely to represent a tip of an iceberg.

Laura Russell, Stonewall’s director of campaigns, policy and research, said: “From our research into hate crime, we know that four in five anti-LGBT hate crimes go unreported, with younger people particularly reluctant to go to the police.

“We have long been concerned about the impact debates on LGBT-inclusive education and trans equality in the media, online and in the streets would have on our community. The significant rise in hate crimes against trans people shows the consequences of a society where transphobia is everywhere.”

Mark Brookes, campaigns adviser at Dimensions, a nonprofit organisation supporting people with learning disabilities and autism, said he was one of the 73% of people with learning disabilities and autism who have experienced hate crime.

“For too long, people like me have lived in fear. I never go out alone after 8pm. I always stay on well-lit streets,” he added.

“The reasons for the increase are complex but one thing is clear: a lack of understanding of our experiences by the legal system means victims often don’t feel supported and convictions are rarely achieved.”

CASE STUDIES

Alicia*

Alicia, a Jewish student in her twenties living in Manchester, was walking down a street this summer when two men approached and said: “We need you to run our business. We need a Jew to run our business because the Jews have all the money.”

When she tried to walk away, she was assaulted and sexually harassed by one of the men, who then said: “If you can’t run our business, you can at least fuck me.”

She said incidents of sexual harassment were more common when others identified her as being Jewish, with the result that she was being targeted both as a woman and because of her religion. She said she wanted misogyny to be recognised as a hate crime as it would have made her more likely report the incident to the police.

Zeinab*

Zeinab, a 30-year-old woman of Somali heritage studying in Cardiff, felt let down by police and college authorities when she had experienced hate crime.

Her first experience was when a man verbally abused her on a bus, continuing to do so and aggressively threatening her when she moved away from him. No one, including the driver, took any action.

After getting off and calling the police, an officer was understanding and helped her to identify the perpetrator, who was charged and fined.

She described the process of going to court as “very scary” but decided to proceed because she did not want the behaviour to become a “new normal” in Britain.

Months later, she was subjected to similar behaviour by a group of young women at college but neither college staff nor a police officer offered any support. She said they had questioned whether it had been a hate crime and discouraged her from reporting it.

*names changed on request of victims


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