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Hate Crime

Volume 683: debated on Monday 9 November 2020

The Government take hate crime very seriously. The police recorded hate crime figures have benefited from an improved understanding on the part of the public but also, importantly, improvements in the way that the police record these crimes. Interestingly, the recent crime survey for England and Wales, which provides wider information on the nature of hate crime and is not affected by how the police record crime, shows a decrease of about 40% in the experience of hate crime over the past decade. However, we do not rest on our laurels on this. As well as doubling hate crime funding for places of worship this year, the Government are working closely with the police to ensure that all forces are providing reassurance to affected people and encouraging hate crime reporting during the pandemic.

Reported hate crimes have more than doubled since 2013, and it is a well-established fact that these crimes often spike with an increase in political rhetoric. When the Home Secretary brands Travellers as criminal and violent, and reportedly explored options to house asylum seekers on Ascension Island, what responsibility do the Government take for these increases, and does the Minister agree that it is time for our own lowering of the temperature?

I welcome any call from Labour Members with regard to working together to tackle these dreadful, dreadful crimes, but I again draw the hon. Lady back to the fact that the reports that people make to the crime survey show that there is not the same increase that we are seeing in police recorded crime. The importance of police recorded crime is that it suggests very strongly, first, that the public are recognising when they are victims of the crime, but also that the police are recording it better. That must be key to us tackling this terrible crime. If we measure it properly, then we can make sure that our methods to address it are doing exactly that and stopping this terrible crime.

Tell MAMA is running its “No2H8” campaign this month, and the Home Office has acknowledged in its own stats that this year’s rise in hate crimes is partly driven by far-right groups targeting Black Lives Matter campaigners. Will the Minister tell me what the Government are doing to support groups that they have been recognised as victims of an increase in hate crime?

The hon. Gentleman will know that we published the hate crime action plan in 2016 and refreshed it in 2018, and we have seen significant improvements, as I have said, which goes back to the point about police recorded crime as well. We are also investing. Through schemes such as the places of worship scheme, we can have a real impact on the local communities most affected by hate crime. In terms of the Black Lives Matter far-right counter-protest, there was a rise in racially or religiously aggravated and non-aggravated public order offences in June and July this year, as compared with the previous year. To push back a little on what the hon. Member for City of Durham (Mary Kelly Foy) said earlier, we must all fight back against extremist politics, whether it is the far right, as the hon. Gentleman has just talked about, or indeed the far left, because there is an awful lot of hatred coming from that direction at the moment. I welcome the calls—I am taking them to be universal—to lower the temperature, to be responsible with our use of language and to ensure that we have the sorts of discourse in politics that I am sure we all wish for.