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“We need a respectful, mutual listening, free of ideology and predetermined agendas.” Pope Francis, Let us Dream, December 2020

New figures show big rise in religious hate

Hate crime in England and Wales rose by nearly a fifth last year, according to police figures. There were 94,098 offences in total in 2017/18, up 17 per cent on the previous year.

This included 71,251 classed as race hate crimes; 11,638 (12 per cent) offences triggered by sexual orientation; 8,336 (9 per cent) where religion was a factor; 7,226 (8 per cent) motivated because of someone’s disability; and 1,651 (2 per cent) were transgender hate crimes.

Some offences are classed more than once because they have more than one motivation.

Data from the Home Office shows that the sharpest rise was in religious hate crime, which rose by 40 per cent from 5,949 in 2016/17.

The number of offences recorded as transgender hate crimes went up by 32 per cent from 1,248, disability rose by 30 per cent from 5,558, and sexual orientation increased by 27 per cent from 9,157.

The number of hate crimes according to police figures has more than doubled since 2012/13 from 42,255 to 94,098.

This is partly because of improvements in the way crimes are recorded but there have been spikes after events such as the Brexit referendum and the terrorist attacks last year. It is feared there could be a further surge post-Brexit next year.

The Home Office report said: “These large percentage increases across all three strands 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.”

Findings from the separate Crime Survey for England and Wales, which tracks the public’s experience of crime, suggest a drop of 40 per cent in hate crime incidents in the past decade.

The police figures showed that more than half (56 per cent) of the hate crimes recorded were for public order offences and a further third (33 per cent) were for crimes involving violence against the person.

In the year ending March 2018 there were 1,065 online hate crimes.

Hate crimes and incidents are defined as those perceived to be motivated by hostility or prejudice based on a personal characteristic. Five strands are monitored: race/ethnicity; religion or beliefs; sexual orientation; disability; and transgender identity.

Some forces log other types of hostility under the hate crime heading, including reports of misogyny and incidents where victims were targeted because of their age or membership of ‘alternative sub-cultures’.

The Government is considering added new protected characteristics for tackling hate crime to cover offences motivated by, or demonstrating, hatred based on sex and gender characteristics, or hatred of older people.

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Picture: An English Defence League member demonstrates against Islam. (Jay Shaw Baker).