Hate crimes rising in Britain, but police are doing less to stop them

© Peter Nicholls
The chances of police taking action against hate crime offenders have dropped over the past year, with victims now only having a one in four chance of seeing a perpetrator charged.

That figure is down from one in three in the previous year, according to data obtained by The Bureau of Investigative Journalism (TBIJ), which, using the Freedom of Information Act, obtained figures from 40 out of 43 police forces in England and Wales.

The total number of reported hate crimes has jumped by 20 percent over the past year, from 50,288 to 60,225, with 34 out of the 40 police forces recording a rise in offences.

However, just 27 percent of hate crimes recorded by police resulted in a “positive” outcome such as a charge, summons, caution, or restorative justice in 2015/16. That's compared to 35 percent the year prior.

Official explanations for the fall in offenders being charged vary, and include budget cuts, a lack of cooperation from victims, new Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) guidance covering crimes related to social media, and a lack of training on how to deal with hate crimes.

All 13 of the largest police forces, which between them serve 31.6 million people in England and Wales, saw a rise in recorded hate crimes, the data shows.

Ten of those forces - including the London Metropolitan Police Service (MPS), Greater Manchester, and Kent - saw a drop in action taken against hate crime suspects.

The force which came out worst in TBIJ’s analysis is Avon and Somerset Police.

It addressed 241 fewer hate crimes in 2015/16 than in the previous year, representing a drop of 41 percent.

The force’s Superintendent, Will White, told TBIJ that a lack of victim cooperation could be partly to blame for the decline.

“The investigation around this type of crime is victim-orientated and the outcome depends largely on cooperation and assistance from victims," he said.

“We will support victims unequivocally from the point they report a crime and throughout the entire length of the investigation," White added.

The Police Federation has put the blame on budget cuts. Its hate crime spokesperson, Simon Kempton, said: “Since 2010, we have lost 17,000 officers and 19,000 police staff, yet the number of crimes reported and recorded is going up, including hate crimes.”

The Federation has warned that there is already pressure on forces to investigate other abuses, such as child sexual exploitation, cyber crime, and terrorism.

“We’ve reached the point where we have to stop doing some things,” he said.

In 2014/15 - the most recent period for which a breakdown of hate crime is available - 82 percent of offences recorded related to race, 11 percent to sexual orientation, six percent to religion, five percent to disability, and one percent to the victim’s transgender identity.

Since Britain’s vote to leave the European Union on June 23, there has been a spike in the numbers of reported racist hate crimes. Thousands have taken to social media using the hashtag #PostRefRacism to document the xenophobia they have seen or experienced since the referendum.

Figures show that more than 3,000 hate crimes and incidents were reported to police across the UK in the second half of June - a jump of 42 percent compared to last year.

The daily rate peaked at 289 alleged offences on June 25, the day after the EU referendum result was announced.

The Home Office on Tuesday announced a series of measures aimed at tackling hate crimes, including additional guidance for schools and extra funding for security measures at places of worship.

In addition to the action plan, Home Secretary Amber Rudd will ask Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary to assess the way police respond to hate crimes.