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Hate Crimes

Volume 551: debated on Monday 15 October 2012

2. What steps she is taking to promote better recording of hate crimes against disabled, homosexual and transgender people. (122201)

Tackling hate crime is an issue that the Government take very seriously, and we are committed to improving the recording of such crimes. Last month the Home Office published the first set of official statistics on hate crimes recorded by the police in England and Wales, which will help police forces and police and crime commissioners focus resources on where they are most needed.

Will the Minister join me in grimly welcoming the increase in reported disability hate crime, which is due not least to the efforts of the Government and individual Ministers to encourage an environment in which people feel able to report such crimes? That includes local initiatives such as the third-party reporting centre that we have opened in Blackpool.

I strongly agree with my hon. Friend. One of the difficulties is giving people the confidence and the practical means to report hate crimes in the first place, but we are keen to encourage and facilitate that process. Of course, the level of recorded crime is sometimes higher although the baseline is the same or even falling because people are being encouraged to come forward, but we want them to come forward, and we are making it easier for them to do so.

I understand that the Metropolitan police have a specific category of recorded hate crimes against Muslims. Does the Minister agree that, as part of our fight against Islamophobia, it should be rolled out in areas throughout the country, including Greater Manchester?

As I said earlier, the Home Office has compiled statistics on recorded hate crimes in England and Wales for the first time. Only 4% of hate crimes were based on religion—the vast majority were race-based—but we take all hate crimes very seriously, and where we can further improve not only the compilation of data but the practical consequences and the way in which that information is used to tackle such crimes, we shall do so. I shall give serious consideration to the hon. Gentleman’s comments.

The Minister will be aware that later this week the Government will propose an amendment to the Equality Act 2010 which would remove the good-relations duty from the Equality and Human Rights Commission. Does the Minister share my fear that that will weaken attempts to attack hate crime and to promote harmony between different sections of the community?

No, I would not draw that conclusion, but I assure the hon. Lady and every other Member that we are very serious about tackling hate crime. It takes many different forms, and we want to ensure that robust procedures are in place to ensure that the police take effective action.