Covid: Race hate crime spiked during pandemic amid Black Lives Matter protests, report suggests

Intimidating behaviour from neighbours during the coronavirus pandemic helped to fuel the rise in the number of hate crime victims needing support, a charity has said.

Victim Support reported a 62% increase in the number of people being referred for help over the summer.

Between July and August, the charity said it had received 5,657 referrals and there was a significant spike in demand for their services in June and early July when events like the Black Lives Matter protests were taking place.

Diana Fawcett, Chief Executive of the independent charity Victim Support, said: “Our caseworkers also report that the lockdown has been used in some instances to intimidate BAME communities with false accusations of flouting rules.”

Racially-motivated hate crime rose by more than 4,000 in a year, amid BLM and far-right group protests.

According to Home Office data, race hate crimes accounted for around three-quarters (72%) of offences (76,070) and this had risen by 6% since 2018/19 when 72,041 were recorded.

Official figures show 105,090 hate crimes were recorded in 2019/20 – its highest level on record.

Rises in racially or religiously aggravated hate crime in June and July were a third higher (34%) than the previous year.

The provisional Home Office findings said this is “likely to be related to the Black Lives Matter protests and far-right groups’ counter-protests in England and Wales following the death of George Floyd on the 25 May in the United States of America”.

Most forces saw an increase, with 27 seeing a rise of a quarter or more, the Home Office document said, adding: “The level of these offences remained high in July.”

The report added: “Increases in these offences are common when there are an increased number of protests.”

The report studied trends from March 23, when coronavirus lockdown restrictions were imposed, and then when they were gradually eased from May 13 and July 4, using figures available on a monthly basis from all forces, apart from Greater Manchester Police.

According to the findings, in March, April and May the level of such offences was lower than the previous year and this was “particularly marked” in April where the number was down by almost a quarter (24%) on the same month in 2019.