Welsh Police forces record increase in racially and religiously aggravated offences
All four police forces in Wales recorded an increase in racially and religiously aggravated offences in 2021 according to figures published by the Home Office.
North Wales Police recorded the biggest percentage increase in Wales, with the number of offenses going up by 31% from 429 in 2020 to 564 last year – the sixth highest recorded across forces in Wales and England.
South Wales saw the smallest increase at just 8% as offenses rose from 1,167 to 1,257.
Dyfed-Powys recorded a 24% jump from 374 to 462, and offenses in Gwent were up by 19% from 424 to 506.
Of the 44 forces in Wales and Wales, 39 reported a rise in racially and religiously aggravated offences from 2020 to 2021, while 34 forces saw numbers last year reach a new high.
England’s defeat at the Euro football championships is likely to have contributed to the increase there, new analysis shows.
The easing of Covid-19 restrictions is another factor named by forces as having led to the rise in offences, along with improved recording of hate crimes.
Across both countries, a total of 76,884 racially and religiously aggravated offences were recorded in 2021, up 15% from 66,742 in 2020.
The number of offences has been on an upwards trend since 2013, the first calendar year for which comparable data is available.
The figures from police-recorded crime data for England and Wales, cover five types of offences, all of which have a specific racially or religiously motivated element defined by statute.
According to the Home Office, “these racially or religiously aggravated offences are by definition hate crimes”.
The five offences are:
Racially or religiously aggravated assault with injury.
Racially or religiously aggravated assault without injury.
Racially or religiously aggravated harassment.
Racially or religiously aggravated criminal damage.
Racially or religiously aggravated public fear, alarm or distress.
Independent charity Victim Support said the figures for 2021 were “seriously concerning” and fit a pattern for “spikes in hate crime linked to world events”, while the Equality and Human Rights Commission warned that “more still needs to be done to improve the quality of support for victims”, including “effective hate crime training” for police forces.
The National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) said all forms of hate crime are “completely unacceptable – police will take, and do take, all reports seriously and we will do everything we can to investigate”.
The Metropolitan Police recorded the highest number of these offences last year (15,394, up 2% from 15,156 in 2020) followed by West Midlands (8,019, up 57% from 5,117), Greater Manchester (6,431, up 36% from 4,724) and West Yorkshire (5,334, up 15% from 4,642).
West Midlands and Greater Manchester also saw two of the largest year-on-year percentage increases, along with Gloucestershire (up 45% from 384 to 556) and Cleveland (up 34% from 631 to 843).
A spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police said the force saw “several spikes” in reported hate crimes last year that were influenced by “high profile events”, including a “sharp rise following the easing of Covid-19 restrictions.”
Superintendent Rick Jackson, Greater Manchester Police’s hate crime lead, said the number of incidents during lockdown were “unprecedently low, so it was to be expected that there would be an increase” once restrictions were lifted, and that it was “encouraging that members of our communities have the trust and confidence in Greater Manchester Police to report hate crime”.
The UK went back into lockdown at the beginning of last year due to the second wave of Covid-19 infections, with tight restrictions on travel, socialising and leisure activities.
Analysis shows that January to March 2021 saw 13,899 racially and religiously aggravated offences recorded by forces in England and Wales, the lowest number for any quarter since the first three months of 2018.
But this was followed by a sharp jump to 21,239 offences in April to June, coinciding with the gradual lifting of Covid restrictions, before rising even higher in July-September (22,556) followed by slight drop in October-December (19,190).
The period July to September also coincided with the end of the Euro football championships, which saw England lose the final on July 11 in a penalty shootout with Italy.
Police forces in England made a number of arrests in the weeks following the final, after abusive posts on social media targeted England players Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka, all of whom missed penalties.
One football fan who live-streamed himself on Facebook racially abusing the players was later handed a 10-week prison sentence, while another received a six-week sentence for racially abusing Rashford on Twitter.
A spokesperson for Cleveland Police, which saw one of the biggest percentage jumps in race and religious offences last year, confirmed the force “did see a rise in hate crime around the time of the Euro football tournament and the end of the football season” and has since stepped up its response, including appointing a hate crime co-ordinator to “give focus to investigation and training to ensure the best quality of service to communities”.
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