During the coronavirus lockdown the number of hate crimes reported to police fell in most months, as people were told to stay home.
But in June, as Black Lives Matter protests and counter-protests by far-right groups broke out across Britain, the number of racially or religiously aggravated offences were a third (34 per cent) higher than last year.
It comes as figures released this week show that racially aggravated offences across Kent have increased by 169 per cent over the last five years, but actually fell by 16 per cent in 2019/20 compared with the previous year.
Homophobic abuse or attacks have more than quadrupled in five years, but fell by nine per cent last year, while crime against transgender people fell by 30 per cent in 2019/20.
Are you tired of having to scroll through social media or search for the latest news in Kent?
Signing up to the KentLive newsletter means you’ll receive our daily news email once every morning.
It couldn’t be simpler and it takes seconds – you can do it right at the top of this page in the box below the picture on most desktop and mobile platforms.
Type your email address into the ‘sign up to free daily alerts’ box, press ‘subscribe’ and you’re all set.
Changed your mind? There’s an ‘unsubscribe’ button at the bottom of every newsletter we send out.
Hate crimes directed at people with disabilities have rocketed by almost seven times in five years, but fell by 24 per cent last year.
Overall, there were 4,075 hate crimes reported to Kent Police in 2019/20, 320 (seven per cent) fewer than the previous year, but 242 per cent higher than five years ago.
Across England and Wales, there were 6,697 racially or religiously motivated hate crimes in June 2020, and 6,677 in July. During the same two months last year, there were 5,002 and 5,693 incidents.
The Home Office, which published the figures, believes this was related to BLM protests and counter-protests staged by far-right groups, which broke out after the death of George Floyd in America.
Monthly figures for individual police forces are not available, but a Home Office report says increases were seen across most areas, with 27 forces seeing a rise of more than a quarter.
Should there be another lockdown in Kent? Let us know in the survey below.
Victim Support says it saw an alarming rise in the number of people seeking support after suffering hate crime following the easing of lockdown restrictions.
It says the spike was driven by race hate, which went up by 64 per cent compared with last year, and homophobia, with attacks or abuse of people because of their sexuality more than doubling.
Victim Support chief executive Diana Fawcett said: “The Home Office statistics reveal a rise in reported hate crime, similar to the increases in demand we’ve seen in our support service.
“We saw a 62 per cent rise in requests for support for hate crime as lockdown eased, with significant spikes seen in June and early July when events like the Black Lives Matter protests were taking place.
“Our caseworkers also report that the lockdown has been used in some instances to intimidate BAME communities with false accusations of flouting rules.
“We know that hate crime is hugely underreported because some victims worry that the incident was ‘too trivial’ to report or that it won’t be taken seriously by the police.
“While in one sense it is extremely concerning that racial and homophobic hate crimes in particular are on the rise, it can also be a sign that more victims are coming forward.”
Across England and Wales there were a record 105,090 hate crimes recorded by police last year, which amounted to an eight per cent increase on the previous year.
Around three quarters of those offences were racially motivated.
Attacks on people because of their sexuality rose by 19 per cent in 2019/20 compared to the previous year, and hate crimes against transgender people rose by 16 per cent.
KentLive is committed to covering issues and stories that matter to all of our communities, at all times.
You will now be able to read them on these sections here.
This doesn’t mean that these articles won’t or shouldn’t be read by everyone – but simply that we think they will be of strong interest to readers from these communities
Religious hate crimes, however, fell for the first time since 2012/13, by five per cent.
The Home Office says the two thirds (67 per cent) rise in hate crimes reported to police over the last five years is mainly driven by improvements in crime recording and a better identification of what constitutes a hate crime.
However, it acknowledges that there have been short-term, ‘genuine’ rises in hate crime following, ‘trigger events such as the EU Referendum in June 2016 and the terrorist attacks in 2017’.
By contrast, the Crime Survey of England and Wales (CSEW) – which is not affected by changes in crime recording – shows a long-term decline of 38 per cent since 2007/08.
Kent is an absolutely stunning place to live.
We’ve got so many brilliant locations and awe-inspiring backdrops across the county, so it’s no wonder the pictures from the community of photographers on Instagram keep coming thick and fast.
We’re pretty sure that you agree with us that Kent has massive appeal to those with an eye for a picture. But if you did doubt us, then following the @kentlivenews Instagram account is a must-do.
We share the best photos from around the county daily, as well the headlines you need to know about from around Kent on our Instagram stories.
If you want to get involved, use our #kentlive hashtag when you post your photos – we look through them all and repost the best on our account.
What are you waiting for?!
However the CSEW analyses data over a longer period of time and so is unable to identify short-term spikes in hate crime.
Baroness Williams, Minister for Countering Extremism, said: “All forms of hate crime are completely unacceptable.
“The Government takes this issue very seriously, which is why we published the hate crime action plan which has helped improve the police response to, and public awareness of, all forms of hate crime.
“We are working with community groups, charities and schools funding projects to tackle racially and religiously motivated hatred and we have also provided £3.2 million in funding to improve security at places of worship at risk from hate crime attacks for 20-21.”