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Black Lives Matter and far-right protests linked to rising hate crime figures in England and Wales

Abuse against Muslims accounts for half of all religious hate crimes

The statue of 17th century slave trader Edward Colston falls into the water after protesters pulled it down and pushed into the docks, during a protest against racial inequality in Bristol, UK, June 7. Keir Gravil / Reuters
The statue of 17th century slave trader Edward Colston falls into the water after protesters pulled it down and pushed into the docks, during a protest against racial inequality in Bristol, UK, June 7. Keir Gravil / Reuters

The Black Lives Matters movement and far-right protests saw hate crimes in England and Wales soar by a third over the summer months.

According to the latest figures released by the Home Office on Tuesday, half of all religious crimes committed over the last year have been against Muslims.

In total more than 105,090 hate crimes were reported to police in England and Wales in 2019/2020 - an increase of eight per cent compared to the previous year.

Around three quarters of the reports (76,070) were for race hate offences, which have seen a six per cent rise year on year.

The UK has seen an overall increase in hate crime over the last five years.

But the report reveals that in June and July recorded incidents of racially or religiously aggravated offences soared year on year, with June seeing a 34 per cent increase.

"The increases seen in June and July 2020 were likely to be related to the Black Lives Matters protests and far-right groups counter-protests in England and Wales following the death of George Floyd on May 25 in the United States of America," the report says.

"There were also increases in both racially or religiously aggravated and non-aggravated public fear, alarm or distress offences in May, June and July 2020.

"Increases in these offences are common when there are an increased number of protests."

Despite the summer peak, religious hate crime fell overall by five per cent from 2019 to 2020, to 6,822 offences, down from their highest recorded level of 7,203 in 2019.

It is the first reduction in religious hate crimes since 2012/13.

"In 2019/20, where the perceived religion of the victim was recorded, half (50 per cent) of religious hate crime offences were targeted against Muslims (3,089 offences)," the report says.

"The next most commonly targeted group were Jewish people, who were targeted in 19 per cent of religious hate crimes (1,205 offences)."

The largest increase has been seen in sexual orientation crimes, reports of which have risen by 19 per cent to 15,835.

Disability hate crimes rose by nine per cent to 8,469 and transgender identity hate crimes by 16 per cent to 2,540

"These percentage increases are smaller than seen in recent years," the report says.

"Over half (53 per cent) of the hate crimes recorded by the police were for public order offences and a further third were for violence against the person offences. Five per cent were recorded as criminal damage and arson offences.

"The increases seen over the last five years are thought to have been driven by improvements in crime recording by the police following a review.

"It also thought that growing awareness of hate crime is likely to have led to improved identification of such offences. Although these improvements are thought to be the main drivers for the increases seen, there appear to have been short-term genuine rises in hate crime following certain trigger events such as the EU Referendum in June 2016 and the terrorist attacks in 2017. Part of the increase over the last year may or may not reflect a real rise in hate crimes recorded by the police."

In contrast, the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW), which is unaffected by changes in recording practice, shows a fall in hate crime over the last decade.

According to the CSEW, the estimated number of hate crime incidents experienced by adults aged 16 and over fell from 307,000 in the combined 2007/08 and 2008/09 surveys to 190,000 in the combined 2017/18, 2018/19 and 2019/20 surveys, a fall of 38 per cent.

However, due to the combined survey years the CSEW is not able to identify changes in hate crime over shorter term periods.

Published: October 13, 2020 03:21 PM

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