• Wednesday, September 28, 2022

HEADLINE STORY

Racially and religiously aggravated crimes hit record high in England and Wales

According to the Runnymede Trust hate crimes across the UK remain significantly under-reported.

Representational image (iStock)

By: Pramod Thomas

Racially and religiously aggravated crimes have hit new record in England and Wales, according to the latest figures from the Home Office.

Police are investigating more than 80,133 crimes motivated by either racism or religious intolerance in the year ending March 2022, reported the Wales Online. There were 76,884 offences of this nature recorded in 2021.

The latest figure is 22 per cent higher than the previous year and a 26 per cent spike before the pandemic. It is also the highest number on record and almost thrice the 30,870 crimes recorded in 2011-12.

According to the Home Office, last year’s crimes include 4,063 offences of racially or religiously aggravated assault with injury (up 45 per cent in one year) and 10,039 crimes of assault without injury (up 32 per cent).

The data revealed that there were also 7,426 offences of harassment (up 37 per cent), and 2,654 crimes of racially or religiously aggravated criminal damage (up 28 per cent).

Campaigners believe that the actual number will be even higher due to under-reporting.

Majority of offences were racially or religiously aggravated public fear, alarm or distress. Those include shouting abuse at someone over their race or perceived religion, as well as pestering people to cause upset or fear, or even simply rowdy behaviour.

Last year there were 55,951 of these offences, up by 17 per cent from 47,928 the year before.

Except in City of London, people were targeted because of their race or religion in Westminster. There were 910 offences of that nature in Westminster last year, including 143 assaults. It equates to around 458 crimes for every 100,000 residents when compared with the population size.

That was followed by Birmingham (372 crimes per 100,000 residents) and then Manchester (360 crimes per 100,000 residents).

According to the Runnymede Trust, a race equality think tank in the UK, hate crimes across the UK remain significantly under-reported.

“The new figures are appalling and say it all about the consequence of an increasingly polarised society, from which our ethnic minority communities are left at the frontline. We know in particular that Muslim, Gypsy, Roma and Traveller, Jewish and East and South East Asian communities face the brunt of these rising hate crime rates, in an incredibly alarming trajectory,” a spokesperson for the Runnymede Trust told the media outlet.

“As hate crime rates have risen since 2013, prosecution rates have fallen. The burning question now remains as to what our political leaders and police forces are going to do to protect all those walking UK streets from such physical and psychological harm.

Nationally, racially or religiously aggravated crime fell annually during the six years between 2005-06 and 2012-13, but it has gone up in England and Wales since then.

Reports also said that investigations into many of the racially and religiously aggravated crimes remain incomplete.

But while reports have increased, the proportion of  that end with someone being charged or summonsed to appear before a court has dropped.

Five years ago, In the year ending March 2018, 17 per cent of completed investigations into all racially or religiously aggravated offences ended with a suspect being charged. That dropped to 14 per cent in the year ending March 2021, and just 10 per cent last year.

Around 18 per cent of investigations started during the year ending March 2022 have not yet been completed, the report added.

A spokesperson for the National Police Chiefs’ Council has said that targeting someone and assaulting them because of their race or religion will not be tolerated.

“We know this type of crime has historically for many generations been under-reported, but over the last decade, we have seen our engagement with communities build confidence to be able to report these crimes. No one should suffer in silence, and it is important victims have the confidence to come forward, and when they do, they know we will take them seriously,” the spokesperson said.

Police urge public to call 101 (999 in an emergency) or online through the True Vision web site at www.report-it.org.uk to report such crimes.

Eastern Eye

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