Number of attacks on ethnic minorities soar

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The Independent Online

Numbers of attacks on people because of their race or religion are soaring, according to Government figures.

The Ministry of Justice will this week disclose that 41,000 such offences were committed in 2005-06, a rise of 12 per cent on the previous year. The statistics confirm anecdotal evidence from immigrant groups that ethnic minorities have been increasingly targeted in recent years, with the Muslim community under particular pressure since the September 11 attacks six years ago.

The figures will show black people are seven times more likely to be stopped and searched than white people and are much more likely to be caught up in the criminal justice system.

There are stark differences in the ethnic backgrounds of crime victims, with the figures set to disclose that 10 per cent of murder victims are black, well above the proportion of black people in the population (2 per cent). Some 7 per cent of victims are Asian and 4 per cent from other ethnic minorities.

One in three black murder victims was shot, compared with one in 10 Asians and one in 20 whites.

Keith Jarrett, president of the National Black Police Association, last week argued that the ethnic minority communities wanted more people to be stopped and searched to reduce the number of shootings on Britain's streets.

Richard Garside, director of the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies, in London, said: "The increase could be tied in with the rise of far-right groups and some of the rhetoric around the war on terror. The police may also, in their attempts to reach out to ethnic minority groups, be recording more incidents."

Keith Vaz, chairman of the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee, said: "These statistics show the fear of crime remains even though black people are already seven times more likely to be stopped and searched. Over the past 10 years there has been a significant change of attitude in the criminal justice system. This in part may account for the increasing reports of violence."

Home Office figures earlier this year showed Asians were twice as likely to be killed in stabbing or "bottling" incidents than a decade ago. The statistics, disclosed under the Freedom of Information Act, disclosed that the number killed "by sharp instruments" had risen from 4.5 per cent in 1997 to 8.5 per cent, with a surge in such murders after 11 September 2001. The proportion of black people stabbed to death rose from 7.5 per cent to 11.8 per cent.

The European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia has documented rises in attacks on Muslims, including violent assault, verbal abuse and damage to property, since 11 September 2001.

Attacks were carried out on Muslims and mosques in London, Glasgow, Manchester and Bradford shortly after the bungled terror attacks in London's West End on 29 June and at Glasgow airport the next day.

An Indian sailor collapsed and died after being set upon by a gang of young people in Fawley, Hampshire, on 20 October. Ten teenagers were arrested following the assault.

Last week a teenager suffered a serious head injury in a racially motivated assault in Warrington.

Police are also treating an attack on four Germans in Saltney, north Wales, as fuelled by racial prejudice.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Justice would not comment on the figures until they were officially published.