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Hate crimes surge in Britain

Floral tributes were left at the site where a vehicle was driven into Muslims worshippers near the Finsbury Park mosque in north London, on June 19, 2017. (AFP)
LONDON: Hate crimes in Britain surged by the highest amount on record last year, official figures showed on Tuesday, with the vote to leave the EU a significant factor. But despite the rise prosecutions fell.
There were 80,393 offenses in 2016/17, a rise of 29 percent from the year before. In the same period, hate crime prosecutions dropped to 14,480 from 15,442, a fall of 6.2 percent, according to Home Office data.
Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton, National Police Chiefs’ Council Lead for Hate Crime, said in a statement to Arab News: “Police forces are making themselves more visible and accessible to local communities to ensure victims or anyone feeling vulnerable has the confidence to come forward.”
“We can do better at securing convictions,” Hamilton admitted.
“Nobody should have to face hatred because of who they are.”
Shaista Aziz, a British-Muslim journalist and founder of The EveryDay Bigotry Project, a digital anti-racism platform, said: “‘Today’s data showed a correlation between political events and terrorism attacks and peaks in reported hate crime.
“Many of the victims that I work with have not reported their hate crimes to the police because they may not have a witness to the crime or because they do not have confidence in the police or, even more worryingly, they say that these racialized incidents of hate are part of their daily lives.”
Fiyaz Mughal, founder of the hate crime reporting site Tell MAMA, told Arab News: “This is concerning. We know that the Crown Prosecution Service does a sterling job in sending out a message – where crimes have taken place and it is in the public interest to prosecute, they will do so with vigor and energy.
“The CPS will be reviewing their prosecution rates though there may be something in the hate crimes which relate to the online world which are much more difficult to get evidence on.”
Alison Saunders, the Director of Public Prosecutions, said: “The drop in referrals recorded last year has impacted on the number of completed prosecutions and we are working with the police at a local and national level to understand the reasons for the overall fall in referrals in the past two years.”
Saunders added that more than half of 2016-17 cases involving hostility on the grounds of race, religion, sexual orientation, disability or transgender identity saw sentences “uplifted.” This means that the courts passed increased sentences in more than 6,300 cases.

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