DEVON and Cornwall Police are dealing with more religious hate crime, following a rise in offences after recent terrorist attacks and the EU referendum, official figures show.
The latest Home Office data shows a 30 per cent increase in the number of hate crime reported to the police, where religion is a motivating factor.
Between April 2017 and March 2018, 91 incidents were recorded by Devon and Cornwall Police, up from 70 the previous year.
While police force figures do not break down crimes by religion, across England and Wales more than half of the hate crime reported was against Muslims.
The Home Office report explains there were spikes in Islamophobic hate crime after recent terrorist attacks.
The time period includes the Manchester Arena terror attack and the London Bridge attack.
On March 22 2017, just before the start of the latest 12 months recorded, five people also died in a terror attack outside Parliament.
Fiyaz Mughal, founder of Tell Mama, a project which measures anti-Muslim attacks, said he was “not surprised” by the increase.
“There has been a perfect storm of the political mainstreaming of Islamophobia, terrorist attacks, the rise of the far right and abuse that’s allowed on social media.
“Social media companies have come a long way, however they need to get quicker at banning people who post anti-Muslim content.
“The media can improve how it reports incidents. For example with the Lee Rigby attack, they plastered the attacker over the front pages, which caused a wave of retaliatory hate crimes.”
Mr Mughal believes the key is educating children from an early age to be tolerant to other religions.
“According to our data, the most common age group of people committing Islamophobic hate crime are aged 13 to 18. This is why working with teachers and schools is so important.”
Anti-Semitism was the second most common type of religious hate crime.
The Board of Deputies of British Jews president, Marie van der Zyl, said the figures “must serve as an urgent call to action”.
“All of us – faith leaders, politicians, and the media – should today step up our efforts to stamp out this cancer in our society,” she said.
“The Jewish community will continue to work in solidarity with Muslims and people of all faiths. We cannot let Britain become a place where a hijab or a kippah marks someone out as a target.”
The Community Safety Trust, which reports anti-Semitic incidents, said the figures showed a "significant over-representation of Jews as the target for hate crimes".
In Devon and Cornwall, the total number of recorded hate crime incidents has increased by 53 per cent during the last five years.
This is partly because of improvements in the way crimes are recorded, but there have been spikes after events such as the Brexit referendum and the terrorist attacks.
The majority of hate crime, reported to Devon and Cornwall Police, was racist incidents. They increased by 26 per cent compared with the previous year, with 932 cases recorded by officers in 2017-18.
The number of incidents where disability was a motivating factor, rose from 105 to 194.
Hate crimes and incidents are defined as those perceived to be motivated by hostility or prejudice based on a personal characteristic.
Five strands are monitored centrally: race or ethnicity; religion or beliefs; sexual orientation; disability; and transgender identity.
Ahead of the release of the statistics, the Government published a refreshed strategy for tackling hate crime.
The Law Commission will carry out a review to explore how to make current legislation more effective and consider if there should be additional "protected characteristics" to cover offences motivated by, or demonstrating, hatred based on sex and gender characteristics, or hatred of older people.
In another step outlined in the blueprint, taxi drivers and door staff will be given guidance on spotting hate crime.
• Racist incidents and hate crimes spark first Crediton Diversity Festival
by Courier reporter
REPORTS of racist incidents and hate crimes in Crediton are the inspiration behind the first Crediton Diversity Festival, which will be held at the Boniface Centre in Crediton on Saturday, November 10.
Local equalities and diversity campaigner Alan Quick said that reports that people had suffered from racism and other hate crimes had inspired him to “do something positive” and organise the event.
He explained: "The aim of the festival is to celebrate the diverse community we live in.
"Each individual is unique and Crediton is a welcoming place for all regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, age, physical abilities, religious beliefs or other difference.
"Valuing diversity recognises differences between people and acknowledges that these differences are a valued asset."
Alan explained that from 10am to 2pm on November 10, there will be information and advice stalls, music, talks, face painting, games and entertainment. Refreshments will be available.
The Festival will include information from across the wide diverse community, including local and regional organisations.
It will also have stalls from groups and organisations which can support those who have or are suffering from racism or hate crimes, including the police and other agencies or voluntary organisations.
CISCO, Crediton International Social and Cultural Organisation, will be playing an active role at the event, as well as The Turning Tides Project, local churches and faith groups, the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, Crediton Foodbank, Exeter Respect, Exeter Pride, Exeter Communities Together, X-Plore, Devon Communities Together, Healthwatch Devon, Welcoming Refugees in Crediton, Crediton Community Transport, The Lions Club of Crediton, Crediton Police, The Road School, Local Heroes, Stop Hate UK, Devon Romanian Community, Mid and East Devon Migrant Worker (PCSO Melanie Spiller) and many others.
Admission will be free-of-charge and the event will be family-friendly.
The Mayor of Crediton, Cllr Frank Letch and the Chair of Devon County Council, Cllr Caroline Chugg, accompanied by the High Sheriff of Devon, Mrs Grania Phillips and Supt Matt Lawler, Police Commander for Exeter, East and Mid Devon, will officially open the Festival.
The Festival is being supported by Crediton Town Council and a Devon Crimebeat grant through Devon and Cornwall Police working in partnership with Devon Community Foundation and the High Sheriff of Devon with funding from the Proceeds of Crime Act.
In addition to the Festival, the funding will enable some educational work to be completed at Landscore Primary School in Crediton.
Stall applications and further details are available from Alan on 07979 753571 or email: [email protected] .
A CISCO spokesperson said about the Festival: “CISCO is excited to be taking part in the first Crediton Diversity Festival.
“Come, talk, sing, dance, drink with us! Let’s show we are happy to be different. Let’s be strong together.”
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