London race crimes double to 30 a day London has 30 race crimes every day

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The Independent Online
RACE CRIMES in Greater London have doubled in the past year to more than 30 a day, according to a confidential report compiled for Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir Paul Condon. The rise - from 5,867 in 1997-98 to 11,050 in 1998-99 - comes in the wake of the inquiry into the murder of black teenager Stephen Lawrence.

The number of people arrested for racial offences has risen from 600 to more than 1,500 a year.

Some sources fear that the publicity surrounding the damning inquiry has prompted a wave of racist activity, particularly hate mail. The total of racist incidents had remained almost constant for the previous four years. A senior Scotland Yard source described the latest figures as "frightening".

The report was compiled by the Yard's Racial and Violent Crime Task Force and covers crimes ranging from murders and assaults to graffiti and verbal abuse. It was passed to Sir Paul last week and is believed to give the clearest indication so far of racist activity in the capital. One senior officer said the report was "dynamite".

The Independent has also learned that, in its annual report to be published next month, the Commission for Racial Equality will paint a depressing picture of the continued high level of race attacks across the country. A CRE source said: "We will be saying that despite all the talk and progress, there's a concern about the failure of British society to eradicate this problem."

Police believe that the figures are a reflection of their improved reporting methods and a new vigour with which racial incidents are being investigated by officers on the streets.

There has been an explosion of hate-mail and racist graffiti in London since the New Year, with groups like White Lightning and the White Wolves targetting black community groups and MPs. In December a Somalian student was kicked to death in Harrow, in what was treated as a racist murder, while a gang of far-right activists has mounted a hate campaign to drive a South American refugee from his home in Southall, west London.

t A sharp rise in muggings in the first three months of the year was giving "cause for concern", the Metropolitan Police said yesterday. Snatches and robberies on the street rose to 8,707, up nearly 20 per cent compared with the same period in 1998. Overall, muggings in the capital dropped in the 12 months to April, despite what was hoped was this "blip" in the long-term decline in street attacks. Deputy Assistant Commissioner Bill Griffiths said that the causes of the rise were being investigated.

In 1998-9 the number of burglaries in the capital fell to the lowest level in 20 years.