The number of religious hate crimes recorded by Yorkshire’s biggest police force has risen dramatically in the last two years, with around half the incidents targeting Islam.
West Yorkshire Police says an overall rise in the number of hate crimes recorded in 2015/16 is largely down to an administrative change which means reported incidents are more likely to be recorded as crimes.
But while race hate crimes have risen by 62 per cent in a year, ‘faith hate’ crimes targeting specific religious groups rose by 192 per cent in the same period. Of the 178 faith hate crimes recorded in 2015/16, only 36 resulted in charges.
According to a report by the force: “Around one half of all faith hate crimes recorded relate to offences where the targeted faith is Islam. Around 13 per cent of all faith hate crimes recorded related to anti-Semitic offences.”
The report added: “Hate crime is a criminal offence, it should not be tolerated in any of its forms, all victims of all hate crime should rightly expect the police and others to take their reports seriously and all partners should work together to ensure that there is a positive outcome for the victim.”
It said that crime commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson and temporary chief constable Dee Collins launched a joint hate crime campaign in 2014 and then re-launched it a year later.
It added: “The PCC has also used his influence to highlight specific areas of hate crime and has spoken at partner events about hate crime including Islamophobia, Anti-Semitism, he also spoke out recently about sub culture hate crime.”
In December last year the PCC handed out more than £110,000 to 12 organisations which support victims of hate crime.
Statistics from the report show a 70 per cent increase in hate crimes recorded in 2015/16 following what the force describes as a “period of relative stability”.
It said: “The recent increases are predominantly associated with administrative change in relation to force crime recording processes which have resulted in an increased likelihood of a crime being recorded following an incident report to the police.
“Crime increases have been reported across a number of crime types this year and the increases in hate crime follow a similar pattern to related offences such as public order and low level violence without injury.”
There were 269 faith hate ‘incidents’ reported to West Yorkshire Police in 2015/16, of which 178 were classified as crimes. The number of crimes rose 191.8 per cent from the 2014/15 total of 61, and the number of incidents rose by 103.8 per cent.
Of the 2015/15 faith hate crimes, only 37 per cent involved violence of any type, 43.3 per cent were classed as public order offences and 17.4 per cent as criminal damage.
The big increase in the number of faith hate crimes compares with rises of 62.4 per cent for race hate crime and 86.8 per cent for disability hate crime. Sexual orientation hate crime rose by 113.2 per cent.
Temporary Assistant Chief Constable Angela Williams said: “West Yorkshire Police has zero tolerance to all hate incidents and as such people should feel confident in reporting incidents of this nature to us.
“We have made improvements to how we record such incidents to help us understand where we are experiencing issues in a particular area or where outside events are impacting on certain communities or individuals.
“What we need is people’s help in reporting incidents to ensure that those affected are offered support and advice and that, where appropriate, action is taken against the perpetrator.
“Not all hate incidents constitute a criminal offence but by reporting it to us we can build up a picture of any emerging patterns, helping us to police our communities effectively.
“What some people may not realise is that faith hate incidents and crimes include both the targeting of someone because of their beliefs but also the targeting of someone because they don’t hold a particular belief system.”