Stop Hate UK – Response to Home Office Hate Crime Statistics 2020-21Posted on
National Hate Crime Awareness Week is upon us once again, which is without doubt now a focal point of the annual hate crime calendar. During the week we also receive the release of the annual Home Office Hate Crime statistics.
The figures report 124,091* hate crimes were recorded in 2020/21, compared with 105,090 offences in 2019/20, which is an increase of 9% and the figure stands at its highest overall number since records began in 2011/12. And, as in previous years, racially motivated incidents were again the highest, standing at 74% of all recorded incidents.
The consistent increase in total Hate Crimes over the last 6 years is partly attributed to improvements in crime recording by the police, combined with a raised awareness and understanding of Hate Crime, but there is a certainty that incidents are increasing and that underreporting remains an issue.
We must also acknowledge a growing body of evidence that short-term rises in Hate Crime occur after certain ‘trigger events’, such as the EU Referendum in June 2016 and the terrorist attacks in 2017; and the hate directed at members of the East South East Asian community, as scapegoats in relation to the Covid 19 Pandemic.
This year’s figures must therefore also factor in the increase in public order Hate Crimes during the summer of 2020, following the murder of George Floyd in the USA, resulting in the widespread Black Lives Matter protests and far-right counter-protests.
Inevitably we need to reference the likely impact of, the Covid-19 pandemic. Lockdown restrictions resulted in many people spending much more time online, adding to the risk of exposure to harmful content, and, online disinformation and conspiracy theories being used to promote hate and violence, and which have contributed to the rise in recorded numbers. Indeed, Stop Hate UK is of the opinion that without lockdowns and the restricted movement, the number of recorded Hate Crimes would have been significantly higher.
We know that that the number of Hate Crimes recorded by police in England and Wales has doubled in the last five years, but it is offset by a fall in the number of prosecutions, which is obviously a concern, as it is at total odds with the rising number of recorded incidents.
Elsewhere in the report we see that Sexual Orientation Hate Crimes increased by 7% to 17,135, while disability Hate Crimes increased by 9% to 9,208. Transgender identity Hate Crimes also increased by 3% to 2,630. Again, Stop Hate UK believes this is an underrepresentation of the experiences of people from these communities.
In fact, the only decrease in Hate Crime incidents occurred, again, in Faith related motivations, which fell by 18%. This is concerning as we are hearing a different picture from Faith groups. A lot of Faith related hate occurs online and may not be suitably recognised or categorised by both the victim or the police. Equally, Faith related Hate Crime can be ‘hidden’ within Race motivated incidents. This underlines the importance of recording all Hate motivations in any incident.
Commenting on the Hate Crime figures as a whole, our Chief Executive, Rose Simkins, had the following to say;
“The rising figures are likely to be a combination of a rise in crimes in tandem with a rise in people coming forward to report them.
What we know from talking to people is that many are still not reporting such crimes and, as in previous years, these figures still do not represent a true depiction or the scale of the full picture.
Some people call us and say they do not want to go to the police or think they will be too busy to deal with it, so there are still a lot of people suffering in silence. We want all those directly and indirectly affected to feel comfortable in reporting Hate Crimes, even if they believe nothing can or will be done Because, unless we are able to gain a clear picture of the extent of the problem, we remain unable, as a society, to develop effective strategies to address it.
Rose also added:
We also believe that in the 12-months these figures cover, people actually had fewer opportunities to be outdoors and to mix (during the pandemic and lockdowns), so it’s possible to conclude that the real figures are likely to have been much higher.
As a charity, we are also still very concerned about under reporting and under recording, and our experience tells us figures are probably even higher, particularly for disability and transgender recorded incidents.”
In summary, whilst we always welcome the publishing of these Home Office statistics and we agree that a certain amount of the increases can be attributed to ‘improvements in Hate Crime recording by the Police’, we also know from first hand experience, that these numbers do not represent the full picture of the Hate Crime landscape in the UK and that, yet again, we still have much to do in our work to tackle the issues we see and face every day.
*2021 total figure is adjusted to 114958, for Greater Manchester Police who did not supply data for the year ended 31/03/20, to allow direct comparison.