Police forces are resolving fewer hate crime cases despite number doubling

ITV News North of England Reporter Hannah Miller investigates why despite the number of hate crime cases rising, police forces are resolving fewer cases

Police forces across England and Wales have been accused of letting down victims, after exclusive figures showed they resolved fewer cases of hate crime in 2020 than five years ago. Reports of hate crime have more than doubled in the same period.

An investigation by ITV News and Liberty Investigates found that the number of hate crime cases in which officers identified a suspect and took action against them fell from 14,866 in 2015 to 14,398 in 2020 – despite the number of reports climbing to more than 100,000.

The Freedom of Information requests looked at how many cases ended with a conclusive outcome such as a caution, charge, summons, penalty notice or community resolution.

Source: Liberty Investigates

It reveals that only 14% of cases resulted in that kind of resolution in 2020, half the rate of 28% seen five years earlier.

Lee and his partner were beaten and stabbed in a homophobic attack during a night out in Birmingham.

  • "I am literally on my knees begging for the police to take me seriously"

West Midlands Police say they conducted "an extensive CCTV trawl and followed several lines of enquiry", but Lee believes they missed opportunities to find the offenders by waiting six days to start enquiries. The three offenders have not yet been identified.

11-year-old Ocean and her 17-year-old sister Kasmira feel nervous leaving the house after they were subjected to a violent racist assault in a Bristol park earlier this year.

Ocean, who has an English mum and an Indian dad, recalls being asked where she was from and told to go back to her own country by a group of girls who proceeded to kick her in the neck.

  • Ocean was subjected to a violent racist assault for having an English mum and Indian dad

This video contains distressing images

Kasmira was then beaten up when she tried to help her sister. Both girls had to go to hospital as a result of the attack.

The family are still waiting for an outcome, during which time they worry whether it could happen again. The case has been passed to the Crown Prosecution Service, but mum Taylor Williams says at times she’s contemplated pulling out of the process because of the time it has taken and a "lack of support".

They have since been referred by police to a local hate crime charity and the Lighthouse Safeguarding Unit for ongoing support.

Avon and Somerset Police say that all reported hate crimes will be investigated and they urge victims to report incidents as soon as possible.

The data also shows that tens of thousands of people who reported hate crime last year abandoned the subsequent police investigation.

Last year 33,546 people who reported a hate crime then withdrew from proceedings – a threefold increase on 11,075 in 2015. That places the abandonment rate at 32% in 2020 – significantly higher than the average pull-out rate for other types of crime, which is of 25 percent.

Chief Superintendent Dennis Murray, who won the Queen’s Police Medal for his work on diversity and community outreach with Northamptonshire Police, says forces need to react to the findings. He suggests a lack of trust between police and the communities most affected by hate crime may explain the high drop-out rate.

Dame Vera Baird QC, the Victims’ Commissioner for England and Wales, described the figures as "shocking".

"Police are clearly so unresponsive to this," Dame Vera told ITV News. "If people are gaining the confidence to go to the police, only to be left lying by the wayside, there can't be a clearer failure.”

  • Home Secretary Priti Patel remained silent on the issue of hate crime when approached by ITV News

There is no national standard for how forces should tackle hate crime offences, and the government’s four-year Hate Crime Action Plan expired in May 2020. A new strategy is expected before the end of the year.

The Home Office declined ITV News’ request for an interview and instead issued a statement.

It said: “Hate crime is utterly unacceptable and individuals who commit these crimes should rightly face the full force of the law.

"The government is committed to tackling hate crime and our Hate Crime Action plan has helped improve the police response to, and public awareness of, all forms of hate crime.

"Our approach is working, with the Crime Survey for England and Wales showing a long-term decline in hate crime. Increases in police recorded hate crime is driven by improvements in crime recording and a better indication of what constitutes a hate crime.”