The Home Office has released data on hate crimes and racist incidents recorded by the police in England and Wales for 2011/12.
A Hate crime is defined as “any criminal offence committed against a person or property that is motivated by hostility towards someone based on their disability, race, religion, gender-identity or sexual orientation, whether perceived to be so by the victim or any other person.” In total there were 43,748 hate crimes recorded by the police in 2011/12.
A ‘racist incident’ is categorised differently to a hate crime and is defined as “any incident, including any crime, which is perceived by the victim or any other person to be motivated by a hostility or prejudice based on a person’s race or perceived race.” Racist incidents include incidents that were not subsequently recorded as crimes and ‘no crimes’. Conversely, certain race hate crimes may not have been initially recorded as racist incidents if the racial motivation was not immediately apparent. Consequently, the racist incidents total does not match the race hate crimes total.
Some of the key findings are summarised below:
• In total, there were 43,748 hate crimes recorded by the police in 2011/12, of which 35,816 (82%) were race hate crimes and 1,621 (4%) were religion hate crimes.
• Race hate crimes accounted for the majority of hate crimes in all forces, with the Metropolitan Police recording the highest number of race hate crimes (7,983) followed by Greater Manchester (2,974) and the West Midlands (2531).
• The Metropolitan Police recorded the highest number of religion hate crimes (607) followed by Greater Manchester (180) and Thames Valley (78).
• The majority of all hate crimes involved violence against the person, with race hate crimes involving the most violent offences (85%) followed by religion hate crimes (75%).
• The next most common offence for hate crimes was criminal damage (12% of race hate crimes and 19% of religion hate crimes involved criminal damage).
• The overall number of racist incidents recorded by the police decreased by eight per cent from 51,585 in 2010/11 to 47,678 in 2011/12.
• The Metropolitan Police recorded the highest number of racist incidents (8,327) followed by Greater Manchester (3,740) and the West Midlands (2,765)
• Between 2010/11 and 2011/12 there was a decrease in the number of racist incidents recorded in 27 of the 43 police force areas.
The statistics for hate crimes and racist incidents are not broken down by ethnicity or religious affiliation. However, statistics from the Metropolitan Police- the only force to record Islamophobia as a category of hate crime show that there were 395 Islamophobic incidents in 2010/11. What is notable in the statistics is that the total number of religion hate crimes recorded by the Metropolitan Police is significantly higher than that recorded by all other forces. This high number may indeed be related to the fact that Islamophobia is recorded as a category of hate crime by the force. A key focus of ENGAGE’s Get Out and Vote campaign for the Police and Crime Commissioner Elections which are taking place this November, is to get police to record Islamophobia as is currently done by the Metropolitan Police. Given that anti-Semitism is recorded as a hate crime across all police forces, to have 'anti-Muslim' as a distinct category of hate crime recorded by all forces would simply be a matter of equal treatment.
Racism and Islamophobia have specifically been highlighted as an issue in schools; an investigation carried out by the BBC earlier this year found that nearly 88,000 incidents of racist bullying were recorded in schools between 2007-11. There has also been a focus on Muslim women being the target of hate crimes, with a study carried out by researchers at the University of Leicester showing that the ban on face veils in France has increased hostility towards veiled Muslim women in the UK due to the commonly-held stereotypes of Muslim women as oppressed victims and of Islam more generally as a dogmatic and oppressive religion. This is all the more worrying given that hate crimes are often under-reported by victims. ENGAGE’s 2011 submission to the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights on hate crimes noted a total of 76 anti-Muslim incidents. The submission is available to download here.
More details on the government’s statistics on hate crimes and racist incidents for 2011/12 are available here and here. The Guardian also has interactive visuals on the data which can be viewed here.
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