Race and religiously aggravated hate offences rose to their highest recorded level during the pandemic, latest police figures for England and Wales reveal.
An analysis of 2020 police data for England and Wales – which together are home to 56 million of the UK's 63 million population – has revealed forces closed more than a quarter of cases without identifying a suspect.
Two of the main factors behind the rise in these hate crimes are the coronavirus pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement, according to police.
A total of 61,851 racially and religiously aggravated offences were recorded in 2020 – up 7 per cent from 57,825 in 2019.
It is more than double the figure for 2013, when the data first started being recorded.
The National Police Chiefs’ Council said forces have been improving their handling of hate crimes.
“We are working with forces to help them understand and improve the service they provide to victims,” an official said.
The analysis was compiled by the PA news agency from data published by the Home Office.
It shows that London's Metropolitan Police recorded the highest number of these offences in 2020 (15,101; up 7% from 14,051 in 2019), followed by West Midlands (5,115; up 23% from 4,145) and West Yorkshire (4,627; down 1% from 4,681).
Scotland Yard said the pandemic had made a “direct impact” on levels of hate crime in London, with residents from Chinese and South-East Asian communities reporting that they had been targeted due to the pandemic.
The NPCC said hate incidents can also be triggered by events such as the 2016 EU referendum.
Earlier this week the government launched a crackdown on social media hate crime after members of the England football squad were targeted with racist abuse following the team’s defeat in the Euro 2020 final.
NPCC lead for hate crime, Deputy Chief Constable Mark Hamilton, said: “Targeting someone because of their race or other characteristic is completely unacceptable and should not be tolerated.
“Everyone has the right to live their lives without fear of being attacked, either physically, verbally or online. Police take all reports of threats and abuse seriously and we will work to bring perpetrators to justice.”