LONDON: New figures show that there has been a surge in reports of hate crime directed at people in England and Wales because of their religious beliefs, It rose by 40%, from 5,949 last year to 8,336 this year.
According to the Home Office data, most religious hate crime – 52% of all offences – was aimed at Muslims. The total number of hate incidents reached a record 94,098, from April 2017 to March 2018 – a rise of 17% from the previous year. Just over three-quarters of those reported incidents – a total of 71,251 – were classified as “race hate”.
Statistics show more than half of religiously-motivated attacks in 2017-18 were directed at Muslims and the next most commonly targeted group was Jewish people. Police recorded a total of 94,098 hate crime offences – more than double the total five years ago – and all categories saw a rise.
Hate crime is defined as an offence which the victim considers to be driven by hostility towards their race, religion, sexual orientation, disability or transgender identity. It can include verbal abuse, intimidation, threats, harassment, assault and bullying, as well as damage to property.
The religions that police count hate crimes for are: Buddhist; Christian; Hindu; Jewish; Muslim and Sikh. They also have categories of “no religion”, “other” and “unknown”. Crimes targeted at people because of their sexual orientation made up 12% of the total (11, 638), with religious hatred at 9%, disability hate 8% (7,226) and transgender hate crimes 2% (1,651). Offences are classed more than once if they have multiple motivations.
According to the police figures, the number of hate crimes has more than doubled since 2012/13, when 42,255 were recorded. It is partly because of improvements in the way crimes are reported, but there have also been spikes of hate crime after events like the Brexit referendum and the terror attacks last year.
The Home Office report said the large increases “may suggest that increases are due to the improvements made by the police into their identification and recording of hate crime offences and more people coming forward to report these crimes rather than a genuine increase”.
The figures were revealed as the Home Office announced a review into whether offences motivated by misandry – prejudice against men – should be classed as hate crimes. If so, it could lead to tougher sentences.
The Muslim Council of Britain repeated calls for meaningful and proactive Government action as new figures reveal a rise in Islamophobic hate crime. Harun Khan, Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain, said: “For years, Muslim communities have called for meaningful Government action against the rise in Islamophobia, yet this has been met by a tepid response at best.”
Mr Khan continued: “No longer can the Government sit back and watch as the far-right rises, Islamophobia is mainstreamed and vulnerable Muslim communities are attacked. There has been little action against bullying of Muslim children, minimal funding for security for Muslim institutions (and only during specific periods) and no support to Muslim communities to encourage reporting of hate crime. And the list of inaction continues.”
Mr Khan said: “We welcome the Ministerial Roundtables on antisemitism and Islamophobia to be chaired in late 2018 to listen and respond to concerns from within communities, but unlike in the past two years, we hope that warm words will be followed by strong action.”