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Hate Crime

Volume 602: debated on Monday 16 November 2015

The police continue to make significant progress on tackling hate crime. The recording of hate crime has improved and the True Vision website was launched in 2011. Guidance for officers was published in 2014 and there is improved training on the handling of hate crime cases and support for victims.

I am grateful for that answer and associate myself with the comments made by my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary. Given the horrific attacks in Paris at the weekend, many Muslim communities are concerned about the potential increase in anti-Muslim hate crime in this country. Can my hon. Friend reassure those communities in my constituency and across the country that the Government are committed to tackling such hatred in all its forms?

My hon. Friend makes a very important point. It is absolutely clear that there is no excuse for hatred—no religious excuse and no other excuse. Hatred will not be accepted by this Government. We work closely with community organisations such as Tell MAMA to ensure that we are aware of community work to stop hate crime and to ensure that we increase reporting of it. We have also announced that Muslim hate crime will be recorded separately by the police to ensure that we have a full assessment of its levels.

Further to the comments of the hon. Member for Pudsey (Stuart Andrew), these terrible events in Paris mean that it is very important that police officers engage fully with local communities. The Government were right to suspend the operation of the police funding formula, which deals with frontline policing. Although the counter-terrorism budget has been protected, dealing with such offences means that we need bobbies on the beat. Will the Minister speak to the Home Secretary and see whether we can present an argument to the Chancellor to protect front-line policing so that the police can deal with such issues, which impact on local communities?

I am not sure that I need to speak directly to my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, as she heard what the right hon. Gentleman said. It is important to point out that the proportion of police on the frontline has gone up and it is incredibly important that we work with communities to ensure that we root out these crimes.

Is my hon. Friend aware that ISIL has sought to justify its attack on the Bataclan theatre by saying that it was an attack on promiscuous youth and the perversion of French homosexuals? Does she agree that that is the worst of all hate crimes and would be condemned by all decent people?

Merseyside police have done fantastic work over the past decade or so in tackling hate crime. Does the Minister understand that there is real concern that the likely impact of spending cuts in the spending review could make it a lot harder for Merseyside police to maintain that brilliant work?

I commend the work of Merseyside police, and police across the country. Hate crime has been coming down, and there has been increased reporting of it, which means that more victims are prepared to come forward. That is due to the excellent work of the police and the criminal justice system, and we should all congratulate them on that.

Building on earlier comments, and noting that prevention is better than cure, may I ask the Government what extra measures they are taking to prevent hate crime, rather than tackle it once it has occurred? Also, I offer a reminder: Ministers should always be temperate in their language.

The hon. Gentleman will, I am sure, be aware of the launch of the counter-extremism strategy. We have also committed to a new, cross-Government hate crime action plan to make sure that we tackle this crime at source, and prevent it.

But it is about resources. The Merseyside police and crime commissioner has said that proposed cuts

“will affect the teams which fight serious and organised crime, investigate rape and sexual violence and tackle hate crime.”

The chief constable of that service asks if he should take resources out of teams dealing with child abuse, gun crime, hate crime, or online fraud. What is the Minister’s answer?

The hon. Lady, who was a member of a Government who saw increases in crime, should congratulate this Government on reductions in crime, and on the fact that hate crime is going down. That is down to the excellent work of our police, and we should commend them for that.