The reporting of hate crimes reaches record figures in England and Wales after Brexit

Between July and September 2016, 14,000 hate crimes were reported in England and Wales and, and in the case of some police forces, the number of people suspected of such crimes increased by over 50% in comparison with the previous three months.

According to statistics corresponding to the first three months after the European Union referendum, most police forces in England and Wales recorded record levels of hate crimes.

The weeks following the Brexit ballot from 23 June 2016, political debates focused on the economy, immigration and the political constitution. In spite of everything, one issue was either ignored or underestimated, that being the worrying rise in hate crimes. According to figures provided by the Metropolitan Police, during the last week of June and the month of July, the increase could amount to 500%−an average of 47 cases being reported every day, compared with the previous average before Brexit, of 63 cases every week.

According to Home Office figures, the hate crime figure in July 2016 had been 41% higher than twelve months earlier.

Dorset and Nottinghamshire suffered the highest percentage increases, according to statistical data – 100% and 75%, respectively–, in comparison with the levels observed between March and the end of June. It must be stressed that this period had included the referendum campaign and the week immediately after the ballot.

London’s Metropolitan Police recorded the largest number of hate crimes, with 3,356 cases, during this period, while the police of Greater Manchester and West Yorkshire recorded 1,033 and 1,013, respectively.

On the other hand, South Yorkshire, Gloucestershire, Surrey and the police force of the City of London were the only areas to see a slight decrease in hate crimes.

It must be noted that hate crimes are not a new concept. Suffice to remember the numerous incidents of a religious and racial nature after the attacks of 11 September and 7 July. However, there has been a recent increase in an approach to treat such incidents as crimes and to pursue them. In 2015, for example, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) recorded 15,442 prosecutions due to hate crimes.

All in all, discrepancies remain as to how such crimes should be tackled and to what extent. Some crimes have a racial or religious component as a criminal element, which must be proved so that the action may be considered punishable. In other cases, consideration of the case as a “hate crime” is an aggravating circumstance of the main cause which means a harder sentence. Some professionals state that they are in favour of unifying the varying main points of focus associated with hate crimes in order to ensure coherence and impartiality in this area.

INTERESTING LINKS

The website of the Mossos d’Esquadra: Let’s fight against hate and discrimination. We’ll listen to you

SIVIVO, System to protect against hate crime

Practical manual for the investigation and prosecution of hate crimes and discrimination

The European project Prism analyses how hatred is expressed on social networks

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