Surge in numbers charged with race-hate crimes

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The number of people charged by police with racially-aggravated offences rose by 28 per cent last year, the Crown Prosecution Service said today.

Of those 7,430 cases, more than eight out of 10 - 6,123 defendants - were taken to court.

Data also showed religiously-aggravated cases rose by 26.5 per cent although actual numbers of cases remained very small - namely, 43 defendants charged by police, of whom 41 were prosecuted.

The figures showed there was no evidence of a significant backlash against Muslims in the wake of the July 7 bombings, Director of Public Prosecutions Ken Macdonald QC said.

"Racist and religiously-aggravated crimes are particularly nasty because victims are targeted solely because of their identity or beliefs," he said.

"These crimes don't just affect individual victims and their families but whole communities.

"The CPS is determined to take a robust view of these cases.

"Prosecutors will work closely with the police to make sure the strongest evidence is put before the courts to convict offenders."

Following the London bombings there were 12 religiously-motivated cases in the rest of that month.

The attacker specifically referred to the bombings in six cases.

The actual or perceived religion of the victims was known in 22 out of 43 religiously-motivated cases, and of those 18 were identified as Muslim, three as Christian and one as Sikh.

Mr Macdonald said: "After the July 7 bombings it was feared that there would be a significant backlash against the Muslim community and that we would see a large rise in religiously-aggravated offences.

"The fears of a large rise in offences appear to be unfounded.

"Although there were more cases in July 2005 than for any other month, the rise did not continue into August and overall in 2005-06 there was an increase of nine cases compared to the previous year.

"From the summary case reports sent to me for religiously-aggravated offences, we have noted 12 such cases for the month of July after 7 July and in six of those cases the defendants referred specifically to the London bombings."

One prosecution involved a man from South Yorkshire abusing his Muslim neighbour on the day of the London bombings, and later throwing a brick through the window in the neighbour's front door.

The defendant pleaded guilty at Crown Court and was sentenced to nine months' imprisonment.

In race offences, the number of defendants pleading guilty increased 2 per cent to 71 per cent in the figures, which covered 2005-06.

A further 16 per cent were found guilty after trial, making an overall conviction rate of 87 per cent, a 3 per cent increase year-on-year.

The overall conviction rate for religiously-aggravated charges was 98 per cent.