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Race-hate crimes continue to rise

16 October 2015


Screen crime: the cover of the Tell MAMA report

Screen crime: the cover of the Tell MAMA report

NEW figures from the Home Office suggest that hate crimes in England and Wales have risen by 18 per cent during 2014-15.

During that time, police recorded 52,528 such incidents — up from 44,471 the previous year. More than 80 per cent were classed as race-hate crimes; the remainder involved religion, disability, sexual orientation, or transgender issues.

The Prime Minister said in a statement to accompany the release of the figures that the increase in hate crime was “unacceptable”. He announced on Tuesday that anti-Muslim hate crimes would be recorded as a separate category by all police forces in England and Wales, saying: “We must do more to fight it.”

The figures follow a trend first seen in 2013-14, when religious-hatred offences jumped by 45 per cent, and race hate rose by four per cent.

Actual hate crime, however, is likely to be higher than the police figures indicate. Based on data from the Crime Survey for England and Wales from 2012 to this year, the Home Office estimates an annual average of 222,000 hate crimes. The survey uses interviews with victims, many of whom do not report incidents to police.

But a Home Office report published alongside the data pointed to improved recording of crime over the past year, particularly for offences involving violence. It said: “Together with a greater awareness of hate crime, and improved willingness of victims to come forward, this is likely to be a factor in the increase in hate crimes recorded by the police in 2014-15 compared with the previous year.”

The Minister for Preventing Abuse and Exploitation, Karen Bradley, described hate crime as “absolutely abhorrent”. She said: “The increase in recorded hate crime shows that more victims have the confidence to come forward.”


Online threat to Muslims materialise in real life

ATTACKS against Muslims are increasing, particularly online, and women who are “visibly Muslim” are particularly vulnerable to these, a new study suggests.

Alcohol was poured over one Muslim woman on a train, while passengers watched in silence, ignoring her requests for help; a midwife felt forced out of her job when patients refused to let her attend them, calling her a terrorist; and others, when wearing a niqab or hijab, have suffered physical violence when their clothing has been pulled off. Muslim women have also suffered online abuse: in one case, a woman’s image was redistributed on Twitter with the caption “You burqa-wearing slut”.

The study, commissioned by Tell MAMA (Measuring Anti-Muslim Attacks), found that men were also attacked, but often did not report the abuse for fear of being labelled weak. Tell MAMA said that it had verified 545 reported incidents of anti-Muslim abuse, including 402 online.

In the first study of its kind, published this week, the criminologists Imran Awan, of Birmingham City University, and Dr Irene Zempi, of Nottingham Trent University, carried out in-depth interviews with 11 women and nine men who had been victims of hate attacks.

Asma, a midwife, told them: “One of my patients was in labour when she saw me with my hijab. She swore at me. She shouted, ‘I don’t want my baby to see your terrorist face.’”

Victims reported that they were scared to go outside because of abuse, and that they had adopted Western clothes to avoid attack. Some feared for their lives.

Dr Zempi said: “It is important to recognise the relationship between online and offline anti-Muslim hate crime, and acknow- ledge that many Muslims, especially ‘visible’ Muslim women and men, live in fear because of the possibility of online threats materialising in the ‘real world’.”

The study’s recommendations include urging social-media companies to do more to help victims report anti-Muslim hate crime.

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