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UK Hate Crimes Up 9% Since Pandemic Began

Jenny Donath reports that racially motivated hate crimes are still a major issue in 2021.

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Since the outbreak of coronavirus, the number of reported hate crimes in the UK has risen by 9% to a record 124,000. Three quarters of these have been racially motivated.

Racially motivated incidents made up 70% of the 124,091 crimes and increased by 12% between the beginning of the pandemic last spring and March 2021, including the time of the Black Lives Matter protests in 2020. Hate crimes against people with disabilities increased by 9%, shortly followed by abuse against people’s sexual orientation (7%) and gender identity (3%). Religion was also repeatedly under attack.

“The huge spike in recorded hate crimes in these statistics must be a wakeup call for urgent change,” said Labour MP Nick Thomas-Symonds.​ In June 2021 alone, 399 homophobic hate crimes were recorded, hitting a 10-year high for the capital.

“The LGBTQ+ community in east London need reassurance that all the necessary measures are being taken to protect them from abuse and violence, and that they can feel confident in coming forward reporting hate crime incidents to the police.” - Unmesh Desai, Labour Assembly Member

BAME NHS Staff and Racist Abuse

BAME staff (Black, Asian and other minority ethnic groups) in NHS mental health workplaces face particularly notable racism, including attempts or threats of injury, and verbal abuse. According to research by the Royal College of Psychiatrists, 32.7% of BAME employees (one in three people) have been victim of this. Across the whole NHS, it is 28.9%.

Dr Ananta Dave, a medical director in Lincoln, had to seek professional help to deal with the trauma after facing discrimination from patients and colleagues, and even being threatened with a knife. “Patients and their families have often refused to accept that I was the doctor or that I was leading an assessment because of the colour of my skin, and would ask to see a ‘real doctor’,” he said.

As Dr Lade Smith, the leader of the race equality group at the Royal College of Psychiatrists, concluded:

“Evidence from multiple surveys proves that ethnic minority staff continue to suffer racism and discrimination.”

The report states that 16.7% of BAME staff have experienced discrimination directly from supervisors and co-workers during the last year of the covid pandemic. That is 2.2% more than in 2019. For white staff, the number has only increased by 0.2% from 6% to 6.2%.Smith insists that workplaces must improve how reports are being processed, and provide a safe space for staff to come forward.

On Twitter, Prerana Issar, the NHS England’s chief people officer, said: “All human beings are born equal in dignity and rights. Each of us has an obligation to speak out and stand up to #eliminateracism, and all leaders are accountable for creating NHS workplaces free from discrimination.”

Urgent Improvements Necessary

It is not only the handling of racially driven hate crimes that needs addressing. Protestors have repeatedly complained that hate crimes based on someone’s sex and gender should be added to the Home Office Statistics, since misogyny plays a significant role in violence against women. This movement has gained particular strength since the horrific killings of Sarah Everard and Sabina Nessa.

They see this change as necessary, especially since the police and the CPS (Crown Prosecution Service) have defined a hate crime as any type of offence that the victim perceives as hostile and is fuelled, among others, by spite, ill-will and prejudice.

The high numbers over the past year show there is still a lot to be done to build a tolerant society in which everyone is perceived as equal in dignity and value.

“It’s unacceptable that so many people are facing abuse and attacks just for being themselves.”- Nick Thomas-Symonds, Shadow Secretary of State for International Trade


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