Anti-Muslim crimes double in two years in West Yorkshire

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Mark Burns-Williamson Mark Burns-Williamson

Anti-Muslim crimes in West Yorkshire have more than doubled in two years, new police figures have revealed.

But police chiefs say overall race hate crime in the county has fallen significantly and the issue is a priority.

Newly-obtained figures show a surge in anti-Muslim hate crimes recorded by police forces across the country this year.

Larger forces, like the Met and Greater Manchester Police, revealed a peak in such offences following the London murder of soldier Lee Rigby by two Islamic extremists in May.

The figures for West Yorkshire showed that 37 anti-Muslim crimes were recorded in 2013 to November. That compared with 24 in 2012 and 17 in 2011.

Reacting to the figures, West Yorkshire Assistant Chief Constable John Robins said: “Overall race hate crime has fallen in West Yorkshire by more than nine per cent between the 2011/12 and the 2012/13 financial years and this is encouraging.

“Any rise in a hate crime involving a particular ethnic group or community is of course something we want to address.

“Work is ongoing to encourage victims, no matter what their ethnicity, to report all types of hate crime offences and tackle this issue which has been identified as a priority by the Chief Constable and the Police and Crime Commissioner.

“We have refreshed our partnership approach surrounding Hate Incident Reporting Centres and agreed minimum standards which can be expected by the public.

“In line with the Police and Crime Plan, we have also developed a specific objective to increase awareness and reporting of hate crime, whilst providing the appropriate support to victims.

“The Police and Crime Commissioner has also announced that in the New Year we plan to launch a joint consultation which seeks the views of local people and organisations, making sure any change to working practices is right for all our communities.”

Announcing the consultation, West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson said: “Hate crime has a significant impact on feelings of safety and on people’s lives.

“I am looking, with the Chief Constable, at new ways to make sure that the recording of hate crimes meet the needs of people locally and that our reporting and support services put victims and witnesses at the heart of what we do.”

Bradford Hate Crime Alliance said it had recorded 34 faith hate crimes in the last year, similar to previous years.

Director Jed Din said: “We cannot evidence a marked increase in faith hate crime. There is a major concern about under reporting and in terms of hate crime classification, there is still more work to do.

“Bradford Hate Crime Alliance has worked very closely with Bradford Council and West Yorkshire Police over the last few years, resulting in the first Bradford Hate Crime Strategy being launched in November 2013. We are determined to reduce all hate crime and support victims of hate crime in our district by bringing perpetrators to justice.”

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