06 June 2007

British Hate Crimes Surge

European governments have been "burying their heads in the sand for more than a decade" according to a new survey showing that the number of hate crimes has increased dramatically since the 1990s. The 2007 Hate Crime Survey, produced by US-based Human Rights First, reports:

In the United Kingdom, a dramatic surge of racist and religiously-motivated violence followed the July bombings of the London Underground and a city bus. The spike of violence diminished within weeks, but a high level of violence preceded the incidents and continues.
Contrary to what you might think, this increase in hate crimes was not only directed against Muslim or Asian communities. For instance, the report also notes that anti-semitic attacks rose by 31% to unprecedented levels in 2006, with attacks against individual Jews (as opposed to Jewish property) increasing by 37%, in part owing to a surge in anti-semitic incidents coinciding with the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Among its recommendations, Human Rights First is urging European governments to undertake parliamentary or other special inquiries into the problem of hate crimes to investigate ways of responding better to hate crimes and to seek creative ways of dealing with the roots of intolerance through education. That would be in line with today's report from the Conservative's Democracy Task Force (as commented on by Power to the People) calling for greater Parliamentary scrutiny. However, given the excessive proliferation of legislation we've suffered over the last decade and the Government's defeat over its controversial Racial and Religious Hatred Bill, I suspect Labour will be more inclined to latch onto the recommendation to enact new laws that expressly address and provide enhanced penalties for hate crimes.