By Christopher Jones
National Hate Crime Awareness Week took place last week from 14th to 21st October. The campaign, meant to raise awareness of the rising number of hate crimes in the UK, was organised by ‘17-24-30 No To Hate Crime Campaign’ in partnership with Stop Hate UK.
The centre point of the National Hate Crime Awareness Week was the lighting of the National Candle of Hope and Remembrance on 15th October at St Paul’s Cathedral, London. According to the official website, the candle was lit in memory of ‘MP Jo Cox, and all those killed and injured during the London Bridge, Westminster Bridge, Manchester and Finsbury Mosque attacks.’
Mark Healey and Ryan Parkins founded the ‘17-24-30 No To Hate Crime Campaign’ in March 2009 to mark the 10-year anniversary of the three London Nail Bomb attacks in Brixton, Brick Lane and Soho by British Neo-Nazi David Copeland. It has organised a hate crime awareness week each year since.
The recent rise in acid attacks has made this year the campaign’s most relevant. Criminologists believe that the increase in acid-related attacks, which predominantly occur within London, is a result of gangs no longer using traditional weapons. Knife and gun use may be regarded as a crime that invites more attention on the streets. On the other hand acid is a material that can be purchased easily and possession is not illegal.
Police figures show that assaults involving corrosive substances have more than doubled since 2012. Roughly 500 acid attacks occurred in 2016/17, compared to less than 200 in 2012/13.
Assistant Chief Constable Rachel Kearton, the National Police Chiefs Council, lead for corrosive attacks has said that reports of acid attacks had seen a significant rise in percentage terms. However, she also stated that, in comparison to the number of knife crimes, the number of acid attacks is still “tiny”.
The numbers of acid-related attacks remain on the rise. Over the last year, 208 people in London have been harmed by corrosive-substance assaults, one of which was fatal.