Antisemitic hate crimes in the UK have hit a record high, new figures show, prompting calls for more “visible and frequent” prosecutions for such incidents.
The Jewish community was targeted at a rate of nearly four times a day last year, according to statistics from the Community Security Trust (CST), a charity that monitors antisemitism, which recorded 1,382 antisemitic incidents nationwide in 2017.
This was the highest tally the organisation has registered for a calendar year since it began gathering the data in 1984, with the figure up by 3 per cent compared with 2016 – which had itself been a record annual total.
A breakdown of the crimes shows the number of violent antisemitic assaults increased by more than a third (34 per cent), from 108 in 2016 to 145. Three-quarters of all the antisemitic incidents were recorded in Greater London and Greater Manchester, where the two largest Jewish communities in the UK are located.
The most common single type of incident in 2017 involved verbal abuse randomly directed at Jewish people in public, the figures show.
A report by the CST found no obvious single cause behind the trend, but it pointed to a rise in all forms of hate crime after the EU referendum, as well as publicity surrounding alleged anti-Semitism in the Labour Party.
It said these factors may have caused higher levels of incidents as well as encouraging more reporting of anti-Semitic incidents from victims and witnesses in the Jewish community.
The assessment added: “Often increases in antisemitic incidents have been attributable to reactions to specific trigger events that cause identifiable, short-term spikes in incident levels.
"However, this was not the case in 2017. Instead, it appears that the factors that led to a general, sustained high level of antisemitic incidents in 2016 have continued throughout much of 2017."
CST chief executive David Delew said: "Hatred is rising and Jewish people are suffering as a result. This should concern everybody because it shows anger and division that threaten all of society.
“We have the support of Government and Police, but prosecutions need to be more visible and more frequent.”
Raya Kalenova, executive vice president of the European Jewish Congress (EJC), said: “It is about time the people and governments of Europe woke up to the reality that antisemitism both in word and deed is now commonplace across the continent.
"Only yesterday, an eight-year-old Jewish child was violently assaulted in a Paris suburb for the 'crime' of wearing a kippa in a public place.
"Our leaders and governments must take urgent action to make sure that the Jews of Europe are safe and secure and can continue to command a future in Europe.”
Responding to the findings, the Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, said antisemitism was a “despicable form of abuse” which has “absolutely no place in British society”.
She added: “I welcome this report’s findings that the rise in reported incidents partly reflects the improving response to these horrendous attacks and better information sharing between the CST and police forces around the UK.
”But even one incident is one too many, and any rise in incidents is clearly concerning, which is why this Government will continue its work protecting the Jewish community and other groups from anti-Semitism and hate crime.“
Shadow Communities Secretary Andrew Gwynne said: ”The findings of this report are extremely concerning, and emphasise just how important it is that we all make a conscious effort to call out and confront antisemitism.
“Hate has no place in our country and we must root out antisemitism whenever and wherever it takes place.”