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Police hunt men who put Nazi poster next to UK's oldest synagogue

Appeal for information launched after Home Office reveals record levels of hate crime

Lizzie Dearden
Home Affairs Correspondent
Tuesday 17 October 2017 17:06 BST
The Bevis Marks Synagogue, in the City of London
The Bevis Marks Synagogue, in the City of London (Google Streetview)

Police are hunting two men who put up Nazi propaganda next to Britain’s oldest synagogue, in the latest offence revealed during National Hate Crime Awareness Week.

The suspects were captured on CCTV approaching a public notice board outside the Bevis Marks Synagogue, a Grade I listed building dating back to 1701.

City of London Police said they approached the board and “affixed a poster that contained a quote relating to Nazi antisemitic propaganda”.

“Further to this, they also affixed a yellow-coloured Star of David,” a spokesperson added, referring to the symbol used to identify Jews during the Holocaust.

“The two men then ran away from the scene of the crime in the direction of Bishopsgate.”

Investigators are urging anyone who recognises the men, who remain at large following the incident on 16 August to come forward.

Police would like to speak to these men following an incident at Bevis Marks Synagogue in the City of London (City of London Police)

Alison Rosen, executive of The S&P Sephardi Community that runs the synagogue, said: “This incident is a very serious concern for our regular members and visitors and we would be grateful if anyone can identify the culprits.”

PC Adam Bond, who is leading the investigation, said all forms of hate crime were unacceptable and would not be tolerated in the Square Mile.

“We are committed to tackling this sort of crime and want people to feel they can go about their daily business in the City, no matter who they are, without fear of violence or threat,” he added.

The appeal came after Home Office figures revealed recorded hate crimes have risen by almost a third in the past year.

More than 80,000 incidents were reported in England and Wales in the 2016/17 financial year, spiking around the EU referendum and terror attacks.

Racially or religiously motivated crimes made up the vast majority of offences, but statistics previously released by the Crown Prosecution Service showed prosecutions had dropped.

The Campaign Against Antisemitism called the number of prosecutions “paltry” in comparison with the record crime being reported by the Jewish community in Britain.

The group said its “chilling” polling showed that only 39 per cent of British Jews feel confident that antisemitic hate crimes against them would be prosecuted, 52 per cent believe that the CPS is doing too little to fight antisemitism and almost one in three considered leaving Britain in the past two years.

Stephen Silverman, the group’s director of investigations and enforcement, said: “Whilst the CPS says that it is prosecuting hate crime ferociously, we have yet to see a single year in which more than a couple of dozen antisemitic hate crimes were prosecuted.

“So serious are the failures by the CPS to take action that we have had to privately prosecute antisemites ourselves and challenge the CPS through judicial reviews, the first of which we won in March.”

Concern about neo-Nazi groups has been rising following the murder of Labour MP Jo Cox and a far-right bombing plot.

National Action became the first neo-Nazi group to be banned as a terrorist organisation last year, followed by its subsidiaries NS131 and Scottish Dawn, while the number of suspected far-right extremists referred to a Government programme has risen dramatically.

Anyone with information on the incident at Bevis Marks Synagogue is asked to contact City of London Police by calling 0207 601 2999 or call to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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