Religious hate crimes have surged by 40% in England and Wales, according to figures released by the UK government Tuesday.
Statistics detailed in the Home Office’s annual report revealed that 52% of religious hate crimes targeted Muslims. They also showed that the number of offenses recorded by police rose to an all-time high of 94,098 – 17% higher than last year and more than double the number five years ago.
More than three-quarters of hate crimes were racially motivated, the report said, with hate crimes motivated by the victim’s sexual orientation making up 12%, religious hate crimes 9%, disability hate crimes 8% and transgender hate crimes 2%. The Home Office noted that some offenses had more than one motivating factor.
The report said hate crimes in all categories had increased but added that the rise is thought to be “largely driven by improvements in police recording.”
However, it noted that there were spikes in hate crime following the Brexit vote in 2016 and terrorist attacks last year, such as the Westminster Bridge vehicle attack and stabbing, the Manchester Arena bombing and the London Bridge and Borough Market attack.
The report also showed that the Jewish community was the second most common target of religious hate crimes.
For some Jews, anti-Semitic abuse and death threats have become so bad that they are planning on leaving Britain, CNN has previously revealed
The UK’s Labour Party – long considered a natural home for British Jews – has also been embroiled for more than two years in a bitter dispute over the extent of anti-Semitism within its ranks.
“Today’s shocking revelation of a 40% rise in religious hate crime must serve as an urgent call to action,” Marie van der Zyl, president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, said in a statement posted to Twitter.
“All of us – faith leaders, politicians and the media – should today step up our efforts to stamp out this cancer in our society.
“The Jewish community will continue to work in solidarity with Muslims and people of all faiths. We cannot let Britain become a place where a Hijab or a Kippah marks someone out as a target,” she said.
Misogyny and misandry could be added
The Home Office also said Tuesday that crimes motivated by prejudice against women, men or the elderly may be classified as hate crimes, following a review of current legislation.
The Law Commission, an independent body, is reviewing the effectiveness of current hate crime legislation and assessing whether offenses should be added to the list.
Home Secretary Sajid Javid said he was “committed to stamping this sickening behavior out” and that “hate crime goes directly against the longstanding British values of unity, tolerance and mutual respect.”
“Our refreshed action plans set out how we will tackle the root causes of prejudice and racism, support hate crime victims and ensure offenders face the full force of law,” he said.
Other new measures include a public awareness campaign to be launched later this autumn, which is designed to educate society about hate crime.
Support to religious institutions vulnerable to hate attacks will be extended for a year, and an extra £1.5 million will be made available to groups that support young people to challenge prejudice and hatred. There will also be ministerial roundtables on anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.