Terror attacks in U.K. fueling surge in hate crimes

Alex Mayes, policy advisor at Victim Support, told the Independent that there was greater awareness around hate crime and an improved police response.

“These statistics also mirror our own experience as over the past year we have offered information and support to around 25,000 people which is an increase of 23 per cent on the previous year,” he added.

“Despite these rises, hate crime remains hugely underreported. We want people to know that hate crime will be taken seriously and there is support available to anyone who needs it.”

On Monday, the government announced a wide-ranging review of hate crime laws, which will consider whether to add new “protected characteristics” including age and gender.

Announcing the review, Sajid Javid, the home secretary, said: “Hate crime goes directly against the longstanding British values of unity, tolerance and mutual respect, and I am committed to stamping this sickening behaviour out. Our refreshed action plan sets out how we will tackle the root causes of prejudice and racism, support hate crime victims and ensure offenders face the full force of the law.”

A spokesperson for the Law Commission told the Independent both misogyny and misandry would be considered and it is “not prioritizing one area over another”. 

Baroness Williams, the minister for countering extremism, said the government “stands in solidarity” with communities affected by hate crime.

“Government and police forces must not be complacent in rooting these crimes out,” she added.

“It is why today we have launched a newly updated Hate Crime Action Plan and announced a wide-ranging review of hate crime laws to be conducted by the Law Commission.”

Yvette Cooper, chair of the Home Affairs Committee, said more action was needed to counter online offences.

She added: “Hate crimes can be devastating for victims, deeply divisive for communities, and dangerously linked to extremism … it is very damaging both for those who are targeted by appalling violence or abuse and for entire communities too.“

Violence against a person, public order offenses, criminal damage, and arson made up 96 percent of hate crime-flagged offenses. There were 1,065 online hate crimes in the year.

Despite the increase in recorded crime, however, the number of completed prosecutions fell by over 2 percent from 14,480 in 2016-17 to 14,151 in 2017-18.

Hatred was used to increase punishments handed out in court in more than two-thirds of cases involving hostility on the grounds of race, religion, sexual orientation, transgender identity, or disability in the year.

A Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) report said sentences were “uplifted” in around 7,700 cases, compared to just a handful a decade ago.

Chris Long, a chief crown prosecutor, said: “We know being a victim of hate crime is particularly distressing because of the personal nature of the incident and the CPS is committed to robustly prosecuting these cases.

“The continuing increase in the number of offenders who receive increased sentences is a testament to the work of the CPS in building the cases correctly and providing the courts with the information they need to sentence appropriately.” 

Findings from the separate Crime Survey for England and Wales, which tracks the public’s experience of crime rather than what is recorded by police, indicate a drop of 40 percent in hate crime incidents in the past decade.