Hate crimes rise 10 per cent amid surge in anti-gay and transgender attacks

Three-quarters of attacks in 2018-19 were racially motivated but LGBT crimes see biggest rise 

Lizzie Dearden
Home Affairs Correspondent
Tuesday 15 October 2019 10:45 BST

Hate crimes have risen by 10 per cent in a year across England and Wales to a new record high, amid a surge in attacks on transgender people.

Of the total of almost 103,400 hate crimes recorded by police in 2018-19, three-quarters were racially motivated – a category that includes xenophobia.

But the largest increase was seen in transgender hate crimes, which rocketed by 37 per cent to 2,333 incidents.

The Home Office said the increase could be driven by better recording by police and the increased confidence of victims to report, but “genuine increases cannot be ruled out”.

The second-biggest rise was for crimes motivated by sexual orientation, up a quarter to 14,500, followed by disability, up 14 per cent to 8,256.

Laura Russell, a director at the charity Stonewall, said lesbian, gay, bi and transgender people “still face hatred simply because of who they are”.

“These figures are still likely to only represent the tip of the iceberg when it comes to hate crimes against LGBT people,” she added.

“The significant rise in hate crimes against trans people shows the consequences of a society where transphobia is everywhere.”

Racial attacks rose by 11 per cent to 79,000 offences and religious hate crimes increased by 3 per cent to 8,566 incidents.

Almost half of religious attacks targeted Muslims, while 18 per cent targeted Jewish people.

Racial and religious hate crimes were highest in May, June and July 2018, which saw protests over Tommy Robinson’s imprisonment and Donald Trump’s visit to the UK.

There was another sharp increase in March, when a white supremacist massacred Muslims in the Christchurch terrorist attack.

Figures released by the Home Office showed that more than half of all incidents were public order offences, which include street harassment and abuse, and a third were violent attacks. Others included criminal damage and arson.

The statistics came after senior police officers warned that hate crime had risen to a “new norm” after the 2016 EU referendum, which saw a record surge.


Further spikes were seen after the 2017 terror attacks and police reported increases during September’s parliamentary debates over what Boris Johnson labelled a “surrender bill” to prevent no-deal Brexit.

“Sometimes the way things are said can be perceived as giving permission to people to act beyond the normal boundaries ... it does have an impact on people,” Chief Constable Charlie Hall told a press briefing on Friday.

“We know some of that debate is quite strong but we ask people when those debates take place, that they are respectful and mindful of the impact that’s being had on others.”

Hate crimes recorded by police have more than doubled in the past six years, which officials said was driven by a mix of improvements in the way police record incidents and real-world increases.

Later on Tuesday, the Home Affairs Committee took evidence on the impact of hate crime on social cohesion from Kim Leadbeater, the sister of murdered MP Jo Cox.

Jonathan Evans, the former MI5 director general, also warned the committee about the rising abuse and intimidation of MPs.

Yvette Cooper, chair of the Home Affairs Committee, called the figures “deeply disturbing”.

The veteran Labour MP backed a call for all political parties to sign up to minimum standards of behaviour “to protect public debate”.

“It is urgent that all political parties respond to this call, get on with it and show some leadership,” Ms Cooper said.

“There is also a wider responsibility on the government, social media companies, and on all of us in our communities to drive out this hatred.”

Diane Abbott, the shadow home secretary, said the figures were a “shocking indictment of this government”.

Boris Johnson defends his language in the house of commons

“The incendiary words of politicians have created a toxic atmosphere, including the prime minister whose comments comparing Muslim women to ‘bank robbers’ and ‘letterboxes’ took place while Islamophobic hate crime is rising,” she added.

“Ministers should accept that they bear a major responsibility for these terrible trends.”

Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu, the head of UK counterterror police, has previously said that rising Islamophobic, antisemitic and racist abuse can be seen as a “proxy” for increasing extremism, and must be tackled to reduce the terror threat.

The National Police Chiefs’ Council urged people to report hate crime and pledged that officers would take threats and abuse seriously.

Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton, the national lead for hate crime, said: “The 10 per cent increase in hate crime reported today is in part due to increased confidence of victims to report to the police and continuing efforts by police to improve recording.

“However, these statistics also represent real rises in hate crime, and we are particularly concerned about the sharp increases in LGB and transgender abuse.

“We also recognise there are real divisions in our society at this time, and there is a responsibility on us all to think carefully and be temperate in how we communicate with each other to avoid escalating tensions or emboldening others.”

A government spokesperson said: “Any incident of hate crime is completely unacceptable. No one should be targeted because a hateful minority cannot tolerate the differences that make our country great.

“We are encouraged that more people are willing to report hate crime and that police continue to improve their response to victims.

“Partners across the criminal justice system, government and in the community are working hard to empower those affected and ensure perpetrators are punished.”

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