Hate crimes against Muslims in London 'up by 70%', police figures show

Metropolitan Police figures show total of 816 Islamophobic offences in past year

London's Muslims have faced a 70% increase in Islamophobic attacks over the past year, according to figures from the Metropolitan Police.

The Met's statistics record a total of 816 Islamophobic hate crimes in the 12 months to July 2015, up from 478 over the same period in 2013-14.

Racist and religious hate crimes in London increased overall by 27%, with 13,007 incidents recorded.

The Met defines Islamophobic offences as "any offence which is perceived to be Islamophobic by the victim or any other person".

The London borough of Westminster saw the greatest number of hate crimes against Muslims, with 54 incidents, according to the Met's figures.

Some of the largest increases, though, were in Merton, where 29 Islamophobic offences were reported in the 2015 figures, up from just eight, and Lambeth where there were 40 Islamophobic offences reported, up from 17.

A BBC report quoted a spokesman from Tell MAMA, a group that monitors Islamophobic attacks and supports victims, as saying the majority of victims of Islamophobic incidents are women.

In particular women wearing the hijab, or Muslim headscarf, were the targets of Islamophobic attacks, Fiyaz Mughal, the organisation's director, said.

The Met's figures are not broken down by gender.

The Met has attributed the increase in attacks in part to a willingness of victims to report crimes, as well as an awareness of police staff in being able to identify those particular offences.

The force said events around the world and holy days can also "influence a rise in hate crime incidents" as more officers are on patrol and victims may be more likely to report crime.

Commander Mak Chishty said: "We will not tolerate hate crime and take positive action to investigate all allegations, support victims and arrest offenders."

(Additional reporting by PA)