London: The UK has registered a 29 per cent surge in hate crimes in the wake of Brexit and terrorist attacks in the country, according to new Home Office figures released today. There were 80,393 offences in 2016-17, compared with 62,518 in 2015-16, the largest increase since the UK Home Office began recording figures in 2011-12.
The number of hate crime incidents recorded by British police forces reached a record monthly level of 6,000 incidents in June this year.
This peak was higher than the previous monthly peak of 5,500 in July 2016, seen in the aftermath of the referendum in favour of Briatain’s exit or ‘Brexit’ from the European Union (EU).
“The increase over the last year is thought to reflect both a genuine rise in hate crime around the time of the EU referendum and following the Westminster Bridge terrorist attack (March 2017), as well as ongoing improvements in crime reporting by police,” the Home Office report noted.
The crimes continued to rise after the Westminster Bridge attack on the Houses of Parliament when terror suspect Khalid Masood rammed a car into pedestrians and stabbed a policeman on duty at the Parliament gates, followed by the Manchester suicide bombing in May and terror attacks in London in June.
“The level of offences decreased in the following days (of the Westminster Bridge attack), but again increased with the London Bridge and Borough Market attacks on the 3 June 2017. This pattern is again repeated with the Finsbury Park attack on the 19 June 2017,” the Home Office report notes.
Race was deemed to be a motivating factor in nearly 80 per cent of recorded hate crime incidents – 62,685 incidents. Sexual orientation was a factor in 9,157 or 11 per cent of incidents, with religious hate crime accounting for 5,940 or 7 per cent.
Disability or transgender hate crimes increased by 53 per cent and 45 per cent respectively, but the majority of hate crimes were racially motivated.Regarding disability, transgender and sexual orientation hate crimes, the report said the high figure “suggests that the increases are due to the police improving their identification and recording of hate crime offences and more people coming forward to report these crimes rather than a genuine increase”.
UK home secretary Amber Rudd said she was “heartened” that more victims were confident to come forward and report incidents of hate crime, and that police identification and recording of all crime is improving.
“But no-one in Britain should have to suffer violent prejudice, and indications that there was a genuine rise in the number of offences immediately following each of this year’s terror attacks is undoubtedly concerning,” she said.
The UK Home Office said it was spending 2.4 million pounds on protecting places of worship, a further 1 million pounds for vulnerable faith institutions and 900,000 pounds to support community projects.
A hate crime is defined in the UK as “any criminal offence which is perceived, by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by a hostility or prejudice” based on one of five categories: religion, faith or belief, race, ethnicity or nationality, sexual orientation, disability or gender identity.