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Avon and Somerset Police records 20% increase in the number of racially-motivated hate crimes reported by victims

  • The number of racially-motivated hate crimes reported to Avon and Somerset Police between January and August 2020 increased by 20% compared to the same period in 2019 (from 1,554 to 1,863).
  • 72% of hate crimes reported to the police between January and August 2020 were racially-motivated hate crimes.
  • The spike in racial hate crimes has been attributed to a growing intolerance for hate crimes spurred on by events such as the Black Lives Matters protests, which have empowered more victims to report to the police.

From January to August 2020 the number of racially-motivated hate crimes reported to us increased by 20% compared to the same period in 2019, reflecting a growing intolerance for racial hate crimes, as well as a boost in confidence amongst victims to report to us.

Between January and August 2020, we registered a total of 2,599 hate crimes, up from 2,310 during the same period in 2019. 72% were racially-motivated hate crimes, 10% were disablist hate crimes, 3% were motivated by gender, 3% were motivated by religion, 13% were motivated by sexual orientation, and 2% were transgender hate crimes.

Racial hate crime continues to feature as the most prominent type of hate crime, in particular hate crimes committed towards Black Asian and Minority Ethnic communities. In the same period in 2020, we logged 1,863 hate crimes, 29% of which were directed towards BAME communities (548), representing a 22% increase compared to the same period in 2019.

An audit conducted of 155 hate crimes reported to us in June 2020 revealed that 43% of cases appeared to include hostility directed towards someone from the black community, or who identified under one of the black ethnic groupings. It also showed that 10% of cases were directed towards individuals from Asian communities.

The spike in racial hate crimes has been attributed to a number of factors including recent events in the US, and the subsequent Black Lives Matter protests in the UK, which have propelled hate crime to the forefront of people’s minds. This has resulted in a growing intolerance for this type of behaviour, as well as better understanding of what constitutes a hate crime and a boost in confidence in victims to report to the police.

Whilst numbers reflect a positive trend suggesting people are feeling more empowered than ever to speak up against hate, there are still many communities at risk of under-reporting hate crimes.
For example, we have registered a downward trend in the number of hate crimes reported by Muslim, Jewish, and Polish communities. This has been linked to cultural and language barriers, the belief that certain types of hate crime are ‘normal’, as well as a lack of awareness of available support services and a lack of understanding of the reporting system.

People with disabilities and transgender communities continue to be at high risk of under-reporting. This has been attributed to the complex nature of cases, which makes them difficult to identify.
We are working closely with our partner organisations in Avon and Somerset to tackle the issue of under-reporting hate crimes by strengthening our relationship with minority communities, raising awareness of what a hate crime looks like, and educating bystanders about what to do when they witness one of these crimes.

Hate crime lead at Avon and Somerset Police Superintendent Andy Bennett comments:

“Events taking place not only across the pond but also right on our doorsteps, have catapulted racism and hate crime into the centre of many discussions in recent months.

“National Hate Crime Awareness Week offers an opportunity for us to open up the dialogue about hate crime, to explain and understand what a hate crime is, and to stand by those affected by these crimes. It also encourages us to consider how we are responding to hate crime when we witness, or are turned into victims of hate. This helps us to ensure people continue to report hate crimes and that victims are receiving the support they need.

“I am encouraged by the numbers. They suggest more people are feeling empowered to open up discussions about hate crime and are encouraging each other to report to us when they have been victimised for who they are; what their sexual and/or religious beliefs are, and / or for what they look like.

“I know how damaging hate crimes can be to our communities, and how destructive they can be to someone’s psychological health and well-being. We must put a stop to it. Hate crime is not limited to physical abuse. If someone harasses you, and / or shouts abusive language at you in the street, then this is also a hate crime. Posting offensive, abusive, and hurtful content on social media platforms is also considered a hate crime.

“Tackling hate crime is a top priority for our police force. We need to celebrate the cultural, religious, and historical diversity of our region, and work together to put an end to hate crime. We want to remind you that you are not alone and we are here to help you.

“It may feel like you want to ignore this type of behaviour, or think it’s ‘normal’ and brush it off. However, if you are subjected to these types of crimes, we would urge you to report them to us as soon as possible. Your voice will be heard and we will investigate all hate crimes that are reported to us. If you aren’t sure whether it is a hate crime or not, we would still encourage you to speak to us so we can fully investigate the incident.

“If you or someone you know has been a victim of hate crime, you can report this by calling 101. Always dial 999 in an emergency. You can also report hate crime via our online reporting form here

Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens added:

“As individuals, we should celebrate our differences; it’s our uniqueness that makes each and every one of us who we are. Being targeted because of your age, race, sexual orientation, religion or any other reason is unacceptable.

“This year, the global conversation has highlighted the grave injustices experienced by black people, people of colour, disabled people and many other individuals all over the world. National Hate Crime Awareness Week is an opportunity for us to shine a light on those injustices and is a stark reminder that we still have so much to do.

“We must reach out to victims of this awful crime who are victimised because of their age, sexual orientation, religion, race or any other reason. If you’re a victim reading this please know you are not alone; there are organisations and individuals out there who can offer you help and support.

“As communities, if we see this behaviour we must challenge it and report it. We must help give victims of hate crime the confidence to speak to the police or partner agencies about their experience. We must stand together to fight for a stronger, fairer society built on a foundation of unity and equity.”

Alex Raikes MBE DL LLD (Hons), Strategic Director of SARI says:

“SARI has seen a major impact on our work due to the killing of George Floyd, the rise in Black Lives Matter movement and consequent backlash by far right and disgruntled community members.

“For us during the same period as that reported on by Avon and Somerset Police (January – August 2020), we saw a significant rise in hate crime compared to the same period in 2019.

“Despite two very quiet months in March and April due to the Covid-induced lock down, we still saw an overall rise of 4% in overall hate crime and a 16% rise in race hate crime across the Avon & Somerset area.  This was the same in the Bristol area.  The percentage of hate crime that was race hate crime also increased from 68% to 74% across Avon and Somerset and from 65% to 71% in Bristol.  We saw a huge rise in referrals from 57 in March to 100 in June this year.  Most of these were race hate.

“Covid has led to a spike in attacks on Chinese and South Eastern Asian community members as well as attacks by frustrated ‘locked in’ people on their BME neighbours. The George Floyd killing and Black Lives Matter movement have also led to a backlash on black individuals and families. For example, we have heard reports of racist incidents including remarks referring to George Floyd e.g. “Why are you still breathing?” and a big increase in comments mocking the transatlantic slave trade or even advocate for it e.g. “you should go back to the cotton fields!”. This is extremely distressing to the children, individuals and families facing this appalling abuse.

“Many of you may also have seen the horrific attack on K-Dogg who was run over in a hit and run outside Southmead Hospital which he reports was accompanied by racist verbal abuse, as well as a murder in Weston Super Mare that is being prosecuted as racially aggravated.  For SARI we have not seen such a busy time for our charity since the early 1990s.”