Anti-Semitic hate incidents surge to record levels, charity warns

Cabinet Meeting
Cabinet Meeting

Anti-Semitic hate incidents have surged to record levels in the UK, new figures have revealed.

A report indicates that the Jewish community was targeted at a rate of more than three times a day last year.

The Community Security Trust (CST), a charity which monitors anti-Semitism, recorded 1,309 anti-Semitic incidents nationwide during 2016.

This was a 36% increase on 2015 and surpasses the previous highest annual tally of 1,182 in 2014.

There is no obvious single cause for the record total last year, according to the CST, which has recorded the data since 1984.

Its report said: "Previously, record high incident totals have been caused by anti-Semitic reactions to sudden, specific 'trigger events' leading to temporary 'spikes' in incidents.

"Rather than a single, sudden trigger event causing the 2016 record total, the high number of recorded anti-Semitic incidents is probably due to the cumulative effect of a series of events and factors that, taken together, have created an atmosphere in which the number of incidents recorded by CST has remained high over a sustained period of time."

These included, in 2016, allegations of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party, a perceived increase in racism and xenophobia following the EU referendum and regular high-profile discussion of anti-Semitism, racism and hate crime, according to the study.

It added: "These factors are likely to have contributed to more anti-Semitic incidents occurring, and to a greater level of reporting of those incidents to CST and the police."

In 2016, anti-Semitic incidents were spread uniformly throughout most of the year, the report found.

It said the most common single type of incident involved verbal abuse randomly directed at visibly Jewish people in public.

CST figures also showed that last year:

:: More than three-quarters of all incidents recorded took place in Greater London and Greater Manchester - where the two largest Jewish communities in the UK are located;

:: There were 1,006 incidents of abusive behaviour reported - the highest total recorded in the category, which includes verbal abuse, hate mail and anti-Semitic graffiti;

:: Incidents of damage and desecration to Jewish property increased by a quarter to 81;

:: There were 107 violent anti-Semitic assaults reported to the CST - the highest number since 2010. None was classified as "extreme violence", meaning attacks involving grievous bodily harm or a threat to life;

:: The CST recorded 287 anti-Semitic incidents involving social media.

CST chief executive David Delew said: "Whilst Jewish life in this country remains overwhelmingly positive, this heightened level of anti-Semitism is deeply worrying and it appears to be getting worse.

"Worst of all is that, for various reasons, some people clearly feel more confident to express their anti-Semitism publicly than they did in the past."

Home Secretary Amber Rudd described anti-Semitism as a "deplorable form of hatred" and said the Government is providing £13.4 million to protect Jewish sites.

She said: "It is vital we ensure the safety and security of our Jewish community and this Government will continue to do all we can to stamp out these vile attacks and encourage those who experience them to come forward."

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid said: "Anti-Semitism must be understood for what it is - an attack on the identity of people who live, contribute and are valued in our society.

"We can never be complacent and must ensure that Britain remains a safe place for Jewish people".

Labour's Deputy Leader Tom Watson said the findings of the report are "extremely distressing", adding: "We must root out anti-Semitism whenever it takes place and wherever it exists, as a party and as a country."