UK police record sharp increase in religious hate crimes since Israel-Gaza war began

The number of anti-Semitic and Islamophobic hate crimes has risen

Police forces have recorded an increase in hate crime since the start of the Israel-Gaza conflict. PA
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The number of anti-Semitic hate crimes recorded by many of the UK’s largest police forces jumped sharply in the weeks after the outbreak of the Israel-Gaza conflict, new figures reveal.

The number of Islamophobic offences also increased for some forces, although the picture was more mixed across the country.

Jewish charities called the findings shocking, while campaigners against anti-Muslim abuse said the data was “deeply worrying”.

The Home Office has condemned the increase and said there is "no place for hate".

Greater Manchester Police recorded 74 anti-Semitic offences in the month following the Hamas attacks on Israel on October 7, compared with 15 for the same period in 2022 and 14 in 2021, while West Yorkshire Police recorded 53, compared with 10 in 2022 and 14 in 2021.

The British Transport Police had one of the largest increases, recording 87 anti-Semitic offences in the month after October 7, up from eight in the same period in 2022 and 11 in 2021, as well as a jump in Islamophobic offences with 22 in 2023, up from two in 2022 and eight in 2021.

West Yorkshire recorded 49 Islamophobic offences in this period in 2023, up from 29 in 2022 and 38 in 2021, while in Greater Manchester there were 34 in 2023, 43 in 2022 and 42 in 2021.

The Community Security Trust described the figures as shocking and said they made clear “the extent of the unacceptable rise in anti-Jewish hatred across the country since the Hamas terror attack on October 7”.

“This wave of anti-Semitism was triggered by the mass murder, rape and kidnapping of Jews in Israel, and is fuelled and sustained by extremist hatred online and on our streets," a spokesperson said.

“It is essential that perpetrators are identified and prosecuted, and that wider society shows its disgust for this racist hate crime.”

Tell Mama, which monitors and works to tackle anti-Muslim sentiment and abuse in the UK, said that “levels of anti-Muslim hatred and discrimination are deeply worrying, impacting trust in authorities and their sense of identity and belonging”.

Iman Atta, the organisation’s director, said there had been a “significant spike in anti-Muslim hate since the atrocities on October 7”.

“The nature of many offline cases sent to our service is often overtly racist – targeting Arab and Palestinian communities with dehumanising slurs, anti-Muslim slurs or in some cases targeting their homes, or when speaking Arabic in public, as well as targeting Muslim communities across all ages and gender," he said.

“We should never allow such hatred and intolerance to take root in our communities and at this time, please look out for each other, whether Muslim or Jewish. We must stand together against intolerance, hate and racism.”

The Metropolitan Police, the largest force in the UK, said delays prevented it from supplying full figures until next year, but it had previously reported 218 anti-Semitic and 101 Islamophobic offences between October 1 and 18 this year, compared with 15 and 42 respectively for the same period in 2022.

A spokesman for the Board of Deputies of British Jews said the findings “provide further evidence of the huge upsurge in anti-Semitism" after the conflict.

The board, seen as the voice of the British Jewish community with more than 300 deputies directly elected by the synagogues and communal organisations they represent, said the rise in anti-Semitism had “caused enormous anxiety for Jewish people”.

A spokesperson for the Home Office said: “There is no place for hate in our society and we condemn the recent rise in reported anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim hatred.

“We expect the police to fully investigate all hate crimes and work with the CPS to make sure the cowards who commit these abhorrent offences feel the full force of the law.

“Following recent events, we have also made further funding available to Jewish and Muslim communities, to provide additional security at places of worship and faith schools.”

Updated: December 29, 2023, 5:50 AM