Hate crime of any kind, directed against any community, race or religion, has absolutely no place in our society. As my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister told this House today, we are utterly committed to tackling hate crime, and we will provide extra funding in order to do so. We will also take steps to boost reporting of hate crime and to support victims, issue new Crown Prosecution Service guidance to prosecutors on racially aggravated crime, provide a new fund for protective security measures at potentially vulnerable institutions, and offer additional funding to community organisations so that they can tackle hate crime.
The scenes and behaviour we have seen in recent days, including offensive graffiti and abuse hurled at people because they are members of ethnic minorities or because of their nationality, are despicable and shameful. We must stand together against such hate crime and ensure that it is stamped out. Over the past week, there has been a 57% increase in reporting to the police online reporting portal, True Vision, compared with this time last month, with 85 reports made between Thursday 23 June to Sunday 26 June compared with 54 reports in the corresponding four days four weeks ago. However, I would urge caution in drawing conclusions from these figures as a guide to the trend, as they are a small snapshot of reports rather than definitive statistics.
Much of the reporting of these incidents has been through social media, including reports of xenophobic abuse of eastern Europeans in the UK, as well as attacks against members of the Muslim community. However, we have also seen messages of support and friendship on social media. I am sure the whole House will want to join me in commending those we have seen stand up for what is right and uphold the shared values that bring us together as a country, such as those who opposed the racist and hateful speech shown in the recent video taken on a tram in Manchester.
These recent events are shocking, but sadly this is not a new phenomenon. Statistics from the Tell MAMA report, published today, show that in 2015 there was a 326% increase on 2014 figures in street-based anti-Muslim incidents reported directly to Tell MAMA, such as verbal abuse in the street and women’s veils being pulled away, with 437 such incidents reported.
Worryingly, the report also finds that 45% of online hate crime perpetrators are supportive of the far right. In recent days, we have seen far-right groups engaged in organised marches and demonstrations, sowing divisions and fear in our communities. We have also seen far-right groups broadcasting extreme racist and anti-Semitic ideology online, along with despicable hate speech posted online following the shocking death of our colleague Jo Cox. Her appalling death just under two weeks ago shocked and sickened people not only in communities up and down this country, but in many other countries around the world. As we heard in the many moving tributes paid to her in this House, her loss is keenly felt, and we will always remember that a husband is now without his loving wife and two young children will grow up without a mother.
The investigation of hate crimes is of course an operational matter for the police. I would urge anyone who has experienced hate crime to report it, whether directly to the police at a police station, by phoning the 101 hotline, or online through the True Vision website. In this country, we have some of the strongest legislation in the world to protect communities from hostility, violence, and bigotry. This includes specific offences for racially and religiously aggravated activity and offences of stirring up hatred on the grounds of race, religion, and sexual orientation. It is imperative that these laws are rigorously enforced.
The national police lead for hate crime, Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton, has issued a statement confirming that police forces are working closely with their communities to maintain unity and prevent any hate crime or abuse. Police forces will respond robustly to any incidents, and victims can be reassured that their concerns about hate crime will be taken seriously by the police and courts. Any decisions regarding resourcing of front-line policing are a matter for chief constables in conjunction with their police and crime commissioner.
Since coming to office, the Government have worked with the police to improve our collective response to hate crime. The Home Secretary has asked the police to ensure that the recording of religious-based hate crime now includes the faith of the victim—a measure that came into effect this April. We have also established joint training between the police and the Crown Prosecution Service to improve the way the police identify and investigate hate crime. Alongside this training, the College of Policing, as the professional body for policing, has published national strategy and operational guidance in this area to ensure that policing deals with hate crime effectively.
But we need to do more to understand the hate crime we are seeing and to tackle it. That is why we will be publishing a new hate crime action plan covering all forms of hate crime, including xenophobic attacks. We have developed the plan in partnership with communities and with Departments across Government. It will include measures to increase the reporting of hate incidents and crimes, including working with communities and police to develop third-party reporting centres. It will work to prevent hate crimes on transport, and to tackle attacks against Muslim women, which we recognise is an area of great concern to the community. The action plan will also provide stronger support for victims, helping to put a stop to this pernicious behaviour.
We appreciate that places of worship are feeling particularly vulnerable at this time. That is why we have established funding for the security of places of worship, as announced by the Prime Minister last October. This will enable places of worship to bid for money to fund additional security measures such as CCTV cameras or fencing. We have also been working with communities to encourage them to come forward to report such crimes, and to give them the confidence that those crimes will be taken seriously by the police and courts. My noble Friends Lord Ahmad and Baroness Williams have today visited the Polish cultural centre in Hammersmith, which was a victim of disgusting graffiti, to express their support. We are working closely with organisations such as Tell MAMA and the Community Security Trust to monitor hate crime incidents and with the police national community tensions team to keep community tensions under review.
The Government are clear that hate crime of any kind must be taken very seriously indeed. Our country is thriving, liberal and modern precisely because of the rich co-existence of people of different backgrounds, faiths and ethnicities, and we must treasure and strive to protect that rich co-existence. We must work together to protect that diversity, defeat hate crime and uphold the values that underpin the British way of life, and we must ensure that all those who seek to spread hatred and division in our communities are dealt with robustly by the police and the courts. I commend this statement to the House.
May I send our sincere condolences to the victims of yesterday’s appalling attack in Istanbul, and send an uncompromising message to the terrorists that they will never prevail?
I congratulate the Minister on her excellent statement to the House. Any referendum has the potential to create division in society, and this one was no different. We have probably all felt the rising tension on the streets of our constituencies in recent weeks. In the aftermath, it is incumbent on any elected representative to do three things: first, to respect the decision of the people; secondly, to work to heal these divisions; and, thirdly, to take on directly and defeat the small minority of people who seek to use these moments to peddle hatred and violence. That is what the whole House together should resolve to do today.
Since last Thursday, there are reports of a fivefold increase in race hate comment on social media channels. The 57% increase in reported hate crimes, which the Minister mentioned, comes on top of an already rising tide of hate crime in England and Wales. Last year, the police recorded over 50,000 individual hate crimes, most of them racially motivated, which was an 18% rise on the previous year.
As the Minister said, perhaps the most disturbing reports are those of attacks on individuals and specific communities in recent days. In Huntingdon, cards have been distributed outside homes and primary schools, saying “No more Polish vermin”. In Hammersmith, a Polish community centre was daubed with racist graffiti. On Monday, The Guardian reported that a Muslim schoolgirl was cornered by a group of people who told her:
“Get out, we voted leave”.
There have been reports of more incidents in Leicester today, which my hon. Friend the Member for Leicester South (Jonathan Ashworth) mentioned. Yesterday in Manchester, footage emerged of a US army veteran and university lecturer being told to “go back to Africa” by three youths on a tram. As the Minister said, there have been attacks on Muslim women, and even reports of women speaking on mobile phones in a foreign language being screamed at in the streets.
What is happening to the Britain we have known? This is not taking our country back, but turning Britain into a place we have never ever been. By its very nature, hate crime is a rejection of the British values that have always bound us together. Non-British nationals living in Britain today will feel worried about their safety and will be in need of reassurance. I hope the Minister will be able to provide even more reassurance in her response to my questions.
I welcome the Minister’s promise of a new hate crime action plan. Will she tell the House when the plan will be published, because it is urgently needed? People in need of reassurance want it to be given today, so will she confirm what extra steps are being taken to monitor reports of hate crime across the country and what immediate advice the Home Office is giving to the police on tackling such incidents?
Secondly, it is crucial people know how to report hate crime. The True Vision website the Minister mentioned is very welcome, but I guess it is not widely known. What action will she take to increase awareness of it, and is there a case for national advertising to promote it?
Thirdly, confidence to report hate crime will increase only if people believe their reports will be taken seriously. There is a feeling that such reports are not always taken seriously. I hear what the Minister says about the new CPS advice. Will she assure the House that it will encourage police and prosecutors to follow up every single report of hate crime, prosecute wherever possible and make sure perpetrators face the full force of the law? To provide further reassurance at this difficult time, will Ministers provide more reassurance to people about their immigration status in this country during the renegotiations with the European Union? In doing so, will they also inform the wider public about the issue and prevent some of the more ignorant comments from being made to people in the street?
Finally, is there not now a case for a much more proactive strategy to tackle far right extremism? Racist activity and violence have been on the rise for some time, as HOPE not hate has warned. Is it not time to take its warnings much more seriously? Will the Minister tell the House whether the security services are devoting sufficient resources and attention to this growing threat, and will she ask them to review it?
It is only 10 days ago since we lost our wonderful friend and colleague Jo Cox. As the dust settles on this referendum, we need to continue to have the words of her husband Brendan at the front of our minds:
“Hate doesn’t have a creed, race or religion, it is poisonous.”
Does the Minister not agree that 99% of the British public who voted to leave did not vote for an intolerant, xenophobic or racist Britain? Do not both sides of the referendum campaign now need to unite to make sure Britain remains the open and welcoming place we know and love?
I join the right hon. Gentleman in condemning the attacks in Turkey yesterday. I agree with his first three points: we do and must all respect the decision that was taken by the country last week; we now need to heal those divisions; and we must take on the minority—it is a very small minority of people—that is perpetrating this evil violence. They are committing a crime, and I cannot repeat too many times, nor can any of us in the House, that this crime needs to be reported and action will be taken.
The right hon. Gentleman talked about the reports we have heard. I have heard anecdotal reports of comments made against members of the long-standing Polish community in my constituency. Such comments are absolutely despicable and cannot in any way be accepted. I repeat that those crimes must be reported, because we cannot tackle this crime if we do not know its scale and where it is happening.
The right hon. Gentleman’s response was excellent. He complimented me on my statement, and I want to return the compliment. He asked some specific questions—I scribbled them down—and I will try to address as many of them as I can. He asked when we will issue the new hate crime action plan. It will be issued shortly, but we want to get it right, as I hope he will understand.
The right hon. Gentleman asked about the reporting of such crimes. The increase in the reporting of and the convictions for these crimes is very welcome, but we know that they are not all being reported. I have already made this point, but I want to reiterate that we need these crimes to be reported. We welcome the increase in reporting, but we need more to be reported. He is right that every single report should be investigated and taken seriously.
I want to confirm that there is no change to the immigration status of anybody in the United Kingdom or any UK national living abroad. The right hon. Gentleman talked about the far right. Our work on hate crime is about all its forms, including hate crime perpetrated by the far right. There may have been comments about “taking back control” and “taking back our country”, but I do not want to take back a country that accepts this kind of crime. That is not the sort of country of which I want to be a part. I want to add a comment about our colleague Jo Cox: she said we have more in common, and we most certainly do.
The recent events are sickening, and it is absolutely right that we should condemn them wholeheartedly. However, if we are to find a solution, those events must be seen as part of the much broader increase over the past year in the use of racist language and abusive behaviour, much of which has been targeted at Muslim people, particularly Muslim women. I welcome the Government’s announcement of renewed action, and the Minister is doing an excellent job, working across Government, but does she agree that all of us in the Chamber must, as constituency Members of Parliament, take responsibility to call out racism when we see it, to challenge it wholeheartedly and to make sure that no racism is accepted in our communities? Will she do more to help the reporting of race crime through third-party organisations, so that we get a handle on the size of the problem in our constituencies and communities?
My right hon. Friend makes many important points that I agree with, and we must ensure increased reporting of such crimes. That is why we have insisted that, for religiously motivated hate crime, the religion of the victim must be recorded so that we have a proper picture of what is happening. We work closely with Tell MAMA, the Community Security Trust, and other organisations to ensure that we promote that.
The right hon. Member for Leigh (Andy Burnham) asked about the True Vision website, and I wanted to confirm—I realise I did not answer this—that extra funding has been allocated in the hate crime action plan and it will be available for that website.
May I associate myself with the comments of hon. Members across the House, and offer my sincere condolences to those affected by the tragic incident in Istanbul?
Reports of a huge increase in racist abuse since the EU referendum are concerning, abhorrent and unacceptable, and we have witnessed a 57% rise in xenophobic attacks in the past week. In the wake of the particularly vicious and anti-immigrant rhetoric of the EU referendum, it has been forgotten that those people are our friends and neighbours, and positive contributors to our society. Refugees are people who have come here simply to make better of their lives and those of their children. Depictions of “swarms” or “waves” of immigrants are dangerous, incorrect, and wrong. The SNP rejects the tone and rhetoric of the debate on immigration during the lead-up to the referendum. Instead, we believe that immigration is essential for the strength of our economy and our cultural fabric.
Tolerance, respect and inclusion are the values and principles that we must foster in a modern and inclusive society, and we are working towards encouraging those values in Scotland. Will the UK Government get a grip and show some leadership, follow the example of the First Minister of Scotland and the Mayor of London, and make a statement that speaks directly to citizens of other European countries who are living here, to tell them that they remain welcome, that the UK is their home, and that their contributions are valued?
I truly believe that the vast majority of people who voted last week, no matter which way they voted, did so for the right reasons, and I am sure that that majority will be horrified by the deeds of some who claim that they are acting in their name—they simply are not; it is abhorrent and despicable. The Government will do everything we can to ensure that hate crime reporting increases and that hate crimes are properly and appropriately investigated, so that victims get the support they need. The hon. Lady asked about people living in this country, and I will repeat my earlier point: there is no change to the immigration status of anybody in this country, and I for one welcome people who are here to contribute to and be part of our society, and who share my values and want to be part of this country.
Before I became a Member of the House I was leader of Bradford Council, so I was familiar with walking the streets with councillors from other political parties, community leaders and the police, with no real certainty that my city would be there the following day. I never believed that I would receive a telephone call in Brentwood and Ongar from someone—a Pole, perhaps, or a Frenchman —who was frightened, and whose kids were being bullied at school. Unless we take action now, this will eat us alive from inside. We know from dealing with anti-Semitism and those who are against Muslims, that we need a proper working definition for and understanding of this issue. We have a good one for anti-Semitism that has been adopted by the police, and last month it was adopted by 32 countries as part of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance. We must ensure that someone who goes to a police station will be met with sympathy, understanding and—most importantly—that prosecutions take place. People must understand that, as the Minister rightly says, these actions are a crime.
As Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government my right hon. Friend did an enormous amount of work in this area and he speaks with great authority. He makes an incredibly important point, and I agree that we need prosecutions to increase. We started from a very low base of reporting, prosecuting, and successful convictions. We are doing well and improving, but there is still a long way to go.
I welcome the Minister’s statement and the measured way that she put forward her programme. That is the right approach to adopt. The Home Affairs Committee will meet today to consider some of those matters, and whether we can inquire into the activities of the far right. The Minister mentioned an increase in the number of people who have been reported, but how many have been arrested and charged? Is there consistency between police forces, because some will be more experienced than others, and what are we doing about internet companies and their failure to take down tweets that are racist or that encourage people to commit those crimes? They are simply not doing enough.
The Chair of the Home Affairs Committee asks detailed technical points, and it will be for police forces to gather information on some of those. If he will allow me, I will write to him with the specific details on some of those technical points. His point about internet companies is incredibly important. We have seen and worked with internet providers to combat indecent images of children online, and I pay tribute to them for the work that they have done and the progress made. However, companies and individuals simply have not yet done enough. We say that what is illegal offline is illegal online, but we need companies and businesses to take responsibility for the actions of some people whom they allow to appear anonymously and get away with saying things that are unacceptable.
Like many Members I am so saddened by recent events. Derby is a wonderfully diverse city with a great richness from all its cultures. What assurances can the Minister give that that will be taken into account in order to protect those minorities and embrace those cultures?
I agree that Derby is a wonderfully diverse and great city. I do not live too far away from Derby, so I get the pleasure of visiting it, although not as frequently as I would like. We are working with communities on the point raised by my hon. Friend. There is no one-size-fits-all solution, but we must work with local communities and police forces to ensure the right response.
Many Members will be aware that my constituency sits right next door to Batley and Spen. Yesterday, people in my constituency received a leaflet from the BNP that said that Jo Cox took misguided action by helping Muslims in the country who may now go on to join ISIS, alongside some other horrendous allegations. I have received a significant number of communications from constituents. One seven-year-old Muslim girl and her family were told—I have removed the expletives for the purpose of reading it in the House—that last Friday was the “best day ever—go home all of you”, and I continue to hear about a number of similar incidents. Like many others, I am proud to be British, but I am also proud to be the daughter of a mother who is half-Polish. On Monday I asked the Prime Minister about establishing a cross-party commission to consider race hate crimes. Has any progress been made on that? The time to act is not tomorrow, next week or next month—it is now.
I am shocked by what the hon. Lady says and I am sure the whole House is shocked. That is utterly, utterly unacceptable. I would like to meet her, if she would allow, to discuss specific action to ensure such crimes are reported and action is taken against them.
Any racist attack on anyone from anywhere is an attack on all of us: on all that makes this country a great country and on our fundamental shared British values. Following on from the comments by the right hon. Member for Leicester East (Keith Vaz), what more can be done to ensure Facebook, Twitter and other social media play a large and active part? They are huge, capitalised international companies that spend lots of money on public relations, lobbying and corporate social responsibility. Their primary responsibility at this time is to tackle hate crime. They need to be part of the solution.
I agree with everything my hon. Friend has said.
Like many right hon. and hon. Members, I have over the years campaigned in different parts of the world against human rights abuses. We have been able to do that because Britain is seen across the globe as a tolerant liberal community that has always been prepared to protect all our peoples. Does the Minister share my horror that we should find ourselves in a position today where the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights feels it necessary to urge us to act on this matter? These people are eating away at the fabric of our community from the inside, but they also risk diminishing our standing on the world stage. That is why the Minister is right to act in the way she does, but Government alone cannot do this. She needs to work with local authorities, civic groups and voluntary organisations to ensure that we build the broadest possible coalition against hatred.
The right hon. Gentleman is right that this cannot be solved by Government alone or by legislation. This is something we all have to act on. The hate crime action plan we are working on is cross-Government, but it cuts across all sectors and all parts of society, including civil society, local government and other agencies.
As a member of the Women and Equalities Committee, I welcome the comments by the Chair of that Committee, my right hon. Friend the Member for Basingstoke (Mrs Miller). I also welcome the Minister’s important statement. It is absolutely right that we do not allow this behaviour to be ignored. It is wrong, pure and simple. There are no excuses. Will the Minister confirm that anybody using the referendum as an excuse to commit hate crime will be made an example of, and that there will be no hiding spaces, whether online, in our schools, in our workplaces or around our religious places of worship?
I absolutely agree with my hon. Friend. There is no excuse at all for this behaviour. As I said earlier, I know the hard-working, loyal British people who voted in the referendum will want nothing to do with this behaviour and certainly do not want it to be used as an excuse for it.
As you know, Mr Speaker, I tried twice to secure an urgent question on this matter, so I welcome the Minister’s statement today.
Does the Minister agree that the scenes of hatred and anger are the result of the racist, xenophobic and anti-immigration Brexit campaign, and of our print media, such as the Daily Mail, the Daily Express and The Sun, which over the years have blamed migrant communities for all the problems that occur in our country? This level of hatred and nastiness towards immigrant communities has led to some of the things that are happening. What will the Minister do to address this type of press coverage? Some politicians also need to take responsibility, such as Mr Farage and the right hon. Members for Surrey Heath (Michael Gove) and for Uxbridge and South Ruislip (Boris Johnson), who in their campaign were absolutely disgraceful?
I greatly respect what the hon. Lady has said, so I hope she will not be affronted by this in any way. However, it is quite important for the future to bear in mind that we do not refer to unsuccessful urgent question applications on the Floor of the House. There are very good reasons for that. I absolutely understand the strength of feeling and considerable knowledge the hon. Lady brings to bear. As some colleagues perhaps might know—the Government are certainly aware of it—I did indicate to the Government that it would be helpful if there were to be a ministerial statement on this matter today. I hope the House feels that this is a very proper exchange in the circumstances.
Thank you, Mr Speaker, and thank you for giving me the opportunity to deliver this statement. I think we all need to reflect on what happened during the referendum campaign. The result was decisive and we need to respect it, but we should all take a step back to look at what happened and how the campaign was conducted.
I commend in particular the final sentence of the Minister’s statement, when she stated that we must ensure that all those who seek to spread hatred and division are dealt with robustly by the police and the courts. I suggest to the Minister, using an example of hate crime recently prosecuted in my constituency, that mental health agencies also need to be involved for the period following prosecution if reoffending is not to occur. Does she agree that if those who made crass remarks during the referendum were not aware that they could be flicking the switch of those who are dangerous and troubled, then they are more ignorant than I had initially taken them to be?
My hon. Friend makes a very, very good point. He is right. I assure him that we work with mental health specialists and clinicians to ensure there is involvement at all stages. He is right that vulnerable people may misinterpret and misunderstand. We are only too aware of what the results of that can be.
To deal with these horrific incidents, my colleagues in Birmingham and I are trying to co-ordinate efforts to get the leader of the council, the police and crime commissioner and the chief constable together to set up a gold command structure. Will the Minister consider issuing guidance to chief constables and PCCs, so we not only respond to these incidents but deal with these issues before they arise across our communities?
Decisions on operational policing are matters for chief constables working with police and crime commissioners, but the example the hon. Gentleman gives is a very good one. Others should look towards it.
I congratulate the Minister on not using the word “tolerance”. I have never thought on this issue that to just tolerate people goes far enough. We do not have a threshold with which we will put up. I thank her for not using that phrase and I encourage her not to have it in the hate crime action plan. On the scenes outside Parliament last night, there was only positive coverage by the BBC of what I believe to be hate-filled chants. That shows we have an awful long way to go. Many colleagues in the Labour party are receiving significant hate pressure, threats and intimidation because of internal party politics on their side, which shows that this is not just about the far right. There is a far left. This is not just about racism; there is anti-Semitism and myriad threats and dangers to the stability of what we believe to be culture and society in the United Kingdom.
The hon. Gentleman makes some very powerful points. I agree with much that has been said. He is right. I am no longer on Twitter because I decided that I just did not want to listen to this kind of nonsense. I will, however, use a spellcheck for the word “tolerate”.
I welcome the Minister’s statement. I come at this from the point of view of years of the disappointing correlation between those who report and those who receive conviction. I wonder whether the Minister can outline exactly what resources will be given to the Crown Prosecution Service. As it stands, there is no way that all the incidents we are talking about will ever even see the light of day under its current resources and structures. What support will be given to people so they can find their way through the legal systems? At the moment, we are at risk of opening an enormous door to an empty room.
The hon. Lady has experienced far more than her share of abuse, particularly online. She is a stalwart for standing up and being there, and for still being on Twitter—I am not quite sure why she is.
I spoke to my hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor General before I made this statement to ensure that he heard exactly that point: that the CPS needs to take this seriously and that we need to see prosecutions and convictions. It is very important that people are punished for those crimes.
I, too, welcome the Minister’s statement and her clear commitment to doing what she can to crack down on such appalling hate crime. She will be aware that a National Audit Office report showed that real-terms funding for individual police forces was reduced by an average of 18% from 2011 to 2015. That same report noted that the Department does not have good enough information to work out by how much it can reduce funding without degrading services. Does she know how many services to support victims of hate crime are at risk of being lost or have already been lost? What can she do to remedy that?
The prevalence of hate crime is not on an upward trend. According to the crime survey, prevalence is on a stable if not downward trend, depending on the type of hate crime, but we see more of certain types of hate crime and there is more reporting of it. The reporting of hate crime and prosecutions of hate crime is to be welcomed. We need to ensure that there is more reporting, because I am clear that there is still a very big gap between prevalence and reporting. The hate crime action plan has specific measures on victims, and I hope the hon. Lady comes back to that to discuss it when it is released.
On Monday, an incendiary device was thrown into a halal butchers shop in Wednesbury Road, Pleck, in my constituency—there is a photograph in The Guardian today of the inside of the shop. Will the Minister confirm how much extra funding will be available for local police forces so that they can investigate and tackle such crimes?
That is another shocking example. I dread to think how many hon. Members know anecdotally, but not just anecdotally, of that type of incident. I hope it has been reported and I look forward to hearing from the hon. Lady about the outcome. Perhaps we can come back to funding and so on when the hate crime action plan has been published.
I was with North Wales police on nightshift last weekend. It was made evident to me that people from ethnic minorities—I emphasise that this is not anecdotal—are often afraid to report hate crime. I am sure we are united in praising the courage of victims and bystanders who call out racial hatred. I welcome the third-party reporting centres in the hate crime action plan. Where will they be and when will they be in place? Will they be accessible to all communities, because racism is a risk not to some of our society, but to society as a whole?
The various ways in which hate crime can be reported are available to all communities, but people can go to the True Vision site without fear—it is not walking into a police station and it is not making a phone call—and there will be additional funding for it.
As someone who grew up experiencing considerable racism and Islamophobia, I am utterly shocked by what we have seen. My parents’ generation are even more shocked and sickened, because they thought we had conquered that level of racism. Does the Minister agree that some of our national leaders have been utterly irresponsible in playing the race and anti-Muslim card? That has to stop, and we need cross-party agreements between our national political leaders that it will not happen in future. Politicians need to take responsibility where they have acted irresponsibly.
Even before the referendum in the run-up to the campaign, Britain First and other far right organisations targeted constituencies such as mine, mosques and other institutions in acts of provocation wilfully to cause disorder. There is a lack of resources for policing, and inept legal provision in tackling the hateful groups that are trying to stir up intolerance and violence in our communities. Will the Minister take action immediately? Will she insist that the Prime Minister leads the debate and ensures that we actually step up to the plate?
I agree with the hon. Lady—we all thought that hate crime was something we had left behind and it is shocking that that has proved not to be the case. I also agree with her that, as politicians, we have a responsibility to be measured and responsible in our language, in what we say and in the actions we take. We must never try to pit one race against another, one gender against another or one sexuality against another. That is totally and utterly irresponsible.
The hon. Lady asks about far right extremism in her constituency. Our counter-extremism strategy has specific measures to deal with extremism of all forms. People looked at the strategy and thought that it was perhaps just about Islamic extremism, but it is not—it is about all forms of extremism, including neo-Nazi and far right extremism. The new civil orders that we will consult on as part of our counter-extremism Bill will address part of that.
My borough includes one of the greatest breadths of religious and ethnic diversity in the country, including one of the highest proportions of European residents. I am proud of the strength of our community and our institutions, but even in Westminster, we have had examples of abuse and harassment, and people are reporting their fears. We know from the Tell MAMA report that the Minister mentioned that 61% of victims of hate crime are women. Will the hate crime action plan include specific reference to how we can identify and support women who are targets of hate crime, and will it ensure that they are reporting all the incidents that are occurring to them?
The hon. Lady makes a good point. Yes, I can confirm that the hate crime action plan looks at all victims to ensure that there is specific support and measures in place for them.
I have spoken with the South Wales police and crime commissioner, Alun Michael, this morning about how we respond to the incidents that I regretfully spoke about in the Chamber the other day. Will the Minister make it absolutely clear that there is no hierarchy of hate crime? Whether it is against Jews, Muslims, Hindus, gay, straight, men or women, and whether it comes from the far right or indeed from the far left, it is the same thing and can have the same consequences. We should not stand for it and we have to take action. Those who stir up, condone or encourage it, from wherever they come, need to take responsibility.
I absolutely agree with the hon. Gentleman.
In Scotland, we have just come out of a fortnight celebrating the contribution of refugees to our society. It was a wonderful celebration that we can all be very proud of. Will the Minister join me in condemning those who fixed neo-Nazi, racist and homophobic stickers in Glasgow city centre, including to the statue of La Pasionaria, which commemorates the Scottish volunteers who died fighting fascism in the Spanish civil war?
I join the hon. Lady in condemning that behaviour.
The Polish cultural centre in Hammersmith has received hundreds of supportive emails, cards and flowers following the obscene racist graffitiing of its premises last weekend. The children of nearby Brackenbury and John Betts primary schools turned up en masse at the centre to show their solidarity. That will not surprise the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, who is sitting next to the Minister, and who was their MP before I was. Will the Minister echo the message left by one of the children—“We love you! Yay Poles!”—and affirm that, for every bigot and racist, there is a legion of British people who welcome and embrace migrant communities?
I absolutely agree with the hon. Gentleman, who makes a very good point. This feels like one of those occasions when we all agree, which is great, because we want to agree. My right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary to the Treasury has mentioned to me that this may be the first time ever that he is full agreement with the hon. Gentleman.
Sadly, levels of hate crime have been growing for several years. It seems that for a very small minority of people on the fringes, aspects of the referendum campaign have legitimised some repugnant and atrocious views. Will the Minister say a bit more about what the Government are doing to offer confidence measures within communities feeling pretty bruised right now? It is important that we do build confidence among those people so that they understand that they play a vital role in British society.
The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right: they all play a valuable role in British society. He also referred to a phenomenon we see online, where of course people can comment anonymously and where we have seen a socialising and normalising of behaviour that would never be acceptable in any other form. We need to fight back and make it clear that such behaviour is not normal and certainly should not be accepted.
I am pleased to hear the Minister recognise the importance of training and of a joint strategy between the CPS and the police. As a former special constable in the Metropolitan police, I have to say that my experience of training for hate crime was very poor. May I suggest she bring in an external organisation, such as HOPE not hate or Tell MAMA, to look at the training being delivered to the police and to investigate how seriously they are taking the matter internally?
I wonder whether the hon. Lady would be willing to meet me to discuss her personal experience, because I would like to hear about what is happening on the ground probably as much as she would like to tell me.
Last weekend, my neighbour, a mum of two and a woman of Caribbean heritage, told me that she felt homeless following the referendum result last week. What specific resources will be available to the Metropolitan police to help them engage with communities experiencing a rise in hate crime? Does the Minister agree that we must all do absolutely everything we can to ensure that children in places such as Lewisham can grow up in a country that is respectful and inclusive?
If the hon. Lady will forgive me, I will write to her with the specifics about what is happening within the Metropolitan police. Clearly, there are many police forces and I do not want to provide information that is not strictly accurate and correct. I agree with her point, however. This is a great country—I am incredibly proud of being British—and it will continue to be, irrespective of the result of the referendum, and the country that I am part of is not a country that accepts this kind of behaviour.
I am extremely grateful to the Minister for her statement and to colleagues for their remarks.