Hate crimes: Rise in offences linked to religious beliefs

Police were called to Crowtree Road in the city centre during the early hours of today. Image

Jews in England and Wales are the single most targeted group for religiously motivated hate crime in those parts of the United Kingdom relative to the size of the Jewish population, new figures released by the British government on Tuesday have shown.

Statistics detailed in the Home Office's annual report revealed that 52% of religious hate crimes targeted Muslims.

The number of hate offences recorded by police jumped after the terrorist attack by Khalid Masood at Westminster in March a year ago.

Motivating factors shows hate crimes relating to race were most common, followed by sexual orientation.

In total, there were 672 offenses of religiously motivated hate crime against Jews in the 2017/2018 period.

Alex Mayes, of charity Victim Support, said: "It's startling to see the number of hate crimes reported more than double in the last five years, although this rise does reflect a greater awareness around hate crime and an improved police response".

Some forces log other types of hostility under the hate crime heading, including reports of misogyny and incidents where victims were targeted due to their age or membership of an "alternative sub-culture", such as goths.

The latest figures indicated an upward trend in various types of hate crime.

Hate crimes against gay and bisexual people in the United Kingdom have rocketed by double-digit figures, new statistics show. It provides some real depth to a complex and little understood phenomenon. The Home Office started requiring police officers to collect this information in 2017, realizing that a victim's perceived and actual religion may not always be the same.

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But the study also noted that, based on monthly data, hate crimes appeared to spike following the terrorist attacks in London and Manchester in 2017 and the U.K.'s decision to leave the European Union in 2016. Around half related to Muslims and Islam.

It also said tougher sentences were handed down in two-thirds of cases after prosecutors highlighted aggravating factors to judges.

Ageism and hatred of certain alternative cultures, such as Goths or punks, could also be included in future.

Last month, it was announced that a review by the Law Commission would look at whether offences driven by misogyny - dislike, contempt or ingrained prejudice against women - should be treated as hate crimes.

"Today's figures show persistent hate crime including high levels of racial hate crime, that is very damaging both for those who are targeted by appalling violence or abuse and for entire communities too".

Harun Khan, secretary general of the umbrella group Muslim Council of Britain, said that the new figures should prompt the government to take meaningful action against Islamophobic attacks.

It was also announced on Tuesday that despite the increase in recorded crime, the number of completed prosecutions fell from 14,480 in 2016/17 to 14,151 in 2017/18 - a drop of 329, or 2.3%.

The Crown Prosecution Service said the conviction rate in hate crime cases was 84.7%, up from 83.4% the previous year.

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