By Kate Waldock
According to statistics from a recent Home Office report, the number of hate crimes reported to the police across England and Wales has more than doubled since 2013 and risen by 10% since 2017/18, with the most significant rise being in the number of reported incidences of transphobic abuse.
The report defines a hate crime as “any criminal offence which is perceived, by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by hostility or prejudice towards someone based on a personal characteristic” and focusses on the five strands of hate crime monitored by the Crown Prosecution Service: race or ethnicity; religion or beliefs; sexual orientation; disability; and transgender identity.
With 103,379 hate crimes recorded in England and Wales in the 2018-19 report, this figure has increased significantly from under 45,000 in 2012/13 and has risen by nearly 10,000 since last year, a large increase over the past few years.
The largest overall number of recorded hate crimes were racial, accounting for 76% of offenses. Racial hate crimes have seen an 11% increase in the past year, rising from 71,264 to 78,991 recorded crimes. This is up from 35,944 in 2011/12.
Regarding transgender hate crimes, since last year the number has risen by 37% to 2,333 recorded incidences from 1,703.
Additionally, the number of instances of hate crimes regarding sexual orientation increased by 25% between 2017/18 and 2018/19, reaching a total of 14,491 reports. This is up from 4,345 reports in 2011/12.
Reported incidences of hate crimes motivated by hostility or prejudice towards religion saw the smallest increase overall since 2017/18 compared to the four other strands of hate crime, increasing from 8339 reported incidences to 8,566, an increase of 3%. Nearly half of these crimes were directed towards members of the Muslim community while a further 18% were targeted at members of the Jewish community.
As for hate crimes towards those with a disability, they have reportedly risen by 14% since last year, too. The Home Office emphasises however that it is highly possible a hate crime to have more than one motivating factor.
However, some are speculating that rather than the number of incidences of hate crimes increasing overall, it is the number of ‘recorded’ incidents that has risen. The Spectator has claimed that estimated unrecorded hate crime levels in the past, when added to recorded crime levels, would suggest that the number of hate crimes has actually gone down by 40% since the Home Office’s last report, compared to former estimations. It’s worth noting that these figures are estimations, however.
It is suggested that a review by the College of Policing in 2014 to help police determine what a hate crime is has encouraged the increase in recorded hate crimes, too, as the report itself acknowledges that the fact that crime reporting has improved may be among one of the “main reasons for the increases [in reported incidences of hate crime]”.
The Home Office report also showed that there have been ‘spikes’ in the number of recorded hate crimes following specific events, stating that “there have been short-term increases in hate crime following certain events such as the EU Referendum…and the terrorist attacks in 2017.”
In terms of solutions, the government’s “Action Against Hate” report describes its “four year programme, which focused on five themes: preventing hate crime by challenging beliefs and attitudes; responding to hate crime within our communities; increasing the reporting of hate crime; improving support for victims of hate crime; and building our understanding of hate crime.”