'Deeply worrying' police data shows sharp rise in religious hate crimes after Israel-Gaza war

The Home Office condemned the rise in offences, adding: “There is no place for hate in our society.” Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

The number of antisemitic hate crimes recorded by many of the UK’s largest police forces jumped sharply in the weeks following the outbreak of the Hamas-Israel conflict, new figures reveal.

Islamophobic offences also rose for some forces, although the picture was more mixed across the country.

Jewish charities called the findings “shocking”, while campaigners against anti-Muslim abuse said the data was “deeply worrying”.

The Home Office condemned the rise in offences, adding: “There is no place for hate in our society.”

Freedom of Information responses were obtained from 31 of the 46 forces across the UK, with the data representing a snapshot of what has currently been recorded by forces and is therefore subject to change.

Here is an insight into what they show:

– Greater Manchester Police recorded 74 antisemitic offences in the month following the Hamas attacks on Israel on October 7, compared with 15 for the same period in 2022 and 14 in 2021, while West Yorkshire Police recorded 53, compared with 10 (2022) and 14 (2021).

– West Midlands Police recorded 22 antisemitic offences from October 7 to November 7, compared with one (2022) and eight (2021), while Merseyside Police recorded 20 compared with four (both 2022 and 2021).

– The British Transport Police had one of the largest increases, recording 87 antisemitic offences in the month after October 7, up from eight in the same period in 2022 and 11 in 2021, as well as a jump in Islamophobic offences with 22 (2023), up from two (2022) and eight (2021).

– West Yorkshire recorded 49 Islamophobic offences in this period in 2023, up from 29 (2022) and 38 (2021), but the pattern was not so clear for Greater Manchester (34 in 2023, 43 in 2022 and 42 in 2021) or West Midlands (25 in 2023, 33 in 2022 and 23 in 2021).

The Metropolitan Police, the largest force in the UK, said delays prevented it from supplying full figures until the new year, but it had previously reported 218 antisemitic and 101 Islamophobic offences between October 1 and 18 this year, compared with 15 and 42 respectively in the same period in 2022.

Methods for recording hate crime are not consistent across forces, so the data cannot be used to compare the number of offences between different areas or provide an overall total for the whole of the UK.

But the figures do point to a jump in antisemitic offences recorded by forces concentrated mostly in cities or across built-up areas, while the pattern for Islamophobic offences was more varied.

Data obtained from smaller forces, or those covering areas with few towns or cities, typically showed low numbers of offences, often in single figures, meaning a clear trend was hard to determine.

The Community Security Trust described the figures as “shocking” and said they made clear “the extent of the unacceptable rise in anti-Jewish hatred across the country since the Hamas terror attack on October 7”.

A spokesman for the Jewish charity said: “This wave of antisemitism was triggered by the mass murder, rape and kidnapping of Jews in Israel, and is fuelled and sustained by extremist hatred online and on our streets.

“It is essential that perpetrators are identified and prosecuted, and that wider society shows it's disgust for this racist hate crime.”

Tell Mama, which monitors and works to tackle anti-Muslim sentiment and abuse in the UK, said that “levels of anti-Muslim hatred and discrimination are deeply worrying, impacting trust in authorities and their sense of identity and belonging”.

Iman Atta, the organisation’s director, said: “The nature of many offline cases sent to our service is often overtly racist – targeting Arab and Palestinian communities with dehumanising slurs, anti-Muslim slurs or in some cases targeting their homes, or when speaking Arabic in public, as well as targeting Muslim communities across all ages and gender.

“We should never allow such hatred and intolerance to take root in our communities and at this time, please look out for each other, whether Muslim or Jewish. We must stand together against intolerance, hate and racism.”

A spokesperson for the Home Office said: “There is no place for hate in our society and we condemn the recent rise in reported antisemitic and anti-Muslim hatred.

“We expect the police to fully investigate all hate crimes and work with the CPS to make sure the cowards who commit these abhorrent offences feel the full force of the law.

“Following recent events, we have also made further funding available to Jewish and Muslim communities, to provide additional security at places of worship and faith schools.”

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