Religious hate crime on the rise across Northamptonshire

Northamptonshire Police
Northamptonshire Police

Religious hate crimes have increased in Northamptonshire after recent terrorist attacks and the EU referendum, police figures show.

The latest Northamptonshire Police stats show that there was a 40% increase in the number of such reported hate crimes between April 2017 and March 2018.

A total of 53 incidents were recorded during that period, up from 38 the previous year.

In Northamptonshire, the total number of recorded hate crime incidents has increased by 62% over 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.

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.

In March 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.

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 majority of hate crime, reported to Northamptonshire Police, was racist incidents. They increased by 39% compared with the previous year, with 591 cases recorded by officers in 2017-18.

The number of incidents where disability was a motivating factor, rose slightly from 56 to 65.