In what might one day go down in the dictionary as an example of the definition of political spin, UK Home Secretary Priti Patel has managed to put a positive spin on an alarming rise in hate crime across the country.
Instead of alarm at the rise in offences, Patel instead decided to attempt to convince the public that the surge was due to police recording more incidents rather than the simple fact that more incidents are being committed.
“When we look at the numbers, it’s clear there’s more work that’s taking place in terms of police recording hate crime… That’s a good thing and that’s why the numbers are high.”Priti Patel
The absurdity of the claim is defied by all statistics, with the Home Office recently announcing that hate crime had risen by 10% across England and Wales in the past year, with 103,400 offences being recorded.
79,991 of the total number of offences were racially motivated, a rise of 11 per cent. 8,566 incidents were religiously motivated, with almost 50% being attacks on Muslims and 18% being attacks on Jews.
The rise in hate crime spiked in May, June and July during Tommy Robinson’s imprisonment and the state visit of America’s far-right President Donald Trump.
The figures also showed that hate crime had almost doubled over the past five years and that the figures are likely to be considerably higher than those officially reported.
A nationwide study by Dr Farhan Samanani, of The Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity found that the official figures were merely “the tip of the iceberg” and that 47% of hate crimes went unreported with 7 out of 10 people never reporting the crimes to the police. The study further found that those who had been victims of multiple incidents sought police assistance less as they lose faith in the justice system.
The research involved community organisers from Citizens UK who arranging evidence hearings across the country.
“Hate crime against Muslim women in public places has surged over the last few years, particularly Hijabi women who are easily identifiable as Muslim. I personally feel like the current system is failing me and many like myself. There must be a change to national hate crime legislation to ensure it protects all groups better and people feel confident that reports will be taken seriously”Taj Khan, member of Newcastle Central Mosque and leader with Tyne and Wear Citizens
“Hate crime, whatever it’s origins, brings deep personal fear and destroys community. At this highly significant time in our national life we must choose to come together in our communities or split apart. People of faith point to a creative God who glories in diversity. That is why we must stand together calling out all hate crime, verbal or physical, whatever we believe and wherever we live.”Rt Revd Peter Hill, Bishop of Barking
In response to the government figures, Citizens UK has released an open letter signed by 18 senior Rabbis, Bishops, Imams and charity CEOs from Citizens UK, Fawcett, Stonewall and the Muslim Council of Britain to share “deep concern at the rising tide of fear and division in society and the erosion of trust in public institutions” and call for action.
Ending hate in our public debate
As faith, civil society and education leaders, we are deeply concerned at the rising tide of fear and division in society and the erosion of trust in public institutions.
Incidents of hate crime have been rising dramatically since 2013. The early findings of a nation-wide study of hate crime published by Citizens UK illustrate the real-world impact of this. Whether it is people experiencing islamophobia, antisemitism or racism; LGBTQI+ people experiencing homophobia, biphobia or transphobia, women experiencing misogyny, or disability hate crime, hate has become normalised. Victims want public institutions, politicians and the media to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.
Whatever happens in politics in the next few months this much is clear; we need a drastic change in our public debate; a concerted effort to reverse the rise in hate and division.
Civil society, media and political parties can work together to heal these divisions, starting with better hate crime protections and a shared plan and accountability for building a kinder and more tolerant society
Signatories to date (alphabetical by surname):
Rabbi Robyn Ashworth Steen, Jacksons Row Synagogue, Manchester
Rabbi Charley Baginsky, Liberal Judaism,
Matthew Bolton, Executive Director, Citizens UK
Tim Dixon, co-founder, More In Common
Sir Peter Martin Fahy QPM, We Stand Together
Rt Revd Peter Hill, Bishop of Barking
Rabbi Dr Margaret Jacobi, Birmingham Progressive Synagogue
Dilowar Khan, Director of Engagement East London Mosque
Harun Khan, Secretary General, Muslim Council of Britain
Senior Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner, Reform Judaism
Saleem Kidwai, Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Wales
Sheikh Nuru Mohammed, KSMC Birmingham
Dr Fidele Mutwarasibo, Centre for Voluntary Sector Leadership, The Open University
Rt Revd June Osborne, Bishop of Llandaff
Sam Smethers, CEO, Fawcett Society
Professor Monder Ram OBE, Centre for Research in Ethnic Minority Entrepreneurship
Senior Rabbi Danny Rich, CEO, Liberal Judaism
Paul Twocock, Interim CEO, Stonewall
Rt Revd Dr Joanne Woolway Grenfell, Bishop of Stepney