Record number of anti-Semitic hate incidents in UK

Updated: 

The first six months of the year saw a record number of anti-Semitic hate incidents in the UK, a charity has warned.

The Community Security Trust (CST) said reports of anti-Semitic abuse increased by nearly a third (30%) in the first half of 2017 compared to the same time last year.

The trust, which monitors anti-Semitism and provides security for the Jewish community in Britain, said it recorded 767 anti-Semitic incidents nationwide from January to June 2017.

The most common single type of incident involved verbal abuse randomly directed at visibly Jewish people in public places, but 80 incidents involved physical attacks - a 78% increase from the 45 assaults recorded during the same period in 2016 and the highest number CST has ever recorded for the January to June period.

A further 142 anti-Semitic incidents involved social media - a rise on the 135 cases involving social media that CST recorded in the first half of 2016.

Almost three-quarters of all incidents were recorded in Greater London and Greater Manchester, the two largest Jewish communities in the UK.

The charity said the rise may partly reflect better reporting of incidents from victims and witnesses, but it is likely it is also down to a general, sustained rise in the baseline number of anti-Semitic incidents in an average month.

CST chief executive David Delew warned that "anti-Semitism is having an increasing impact on the lives of British Jews and the hatred and anger that lies behind it is spreading".

The trust said the figures relating to anti-Semitic abuse via social media actually understate the scale of the problem as some targeted campaigns directed at individual victims often involve dozens of social media accounts sending hundreds or even thousands of tweets, images or posts within a concentrated timespan.

It also recorded 51 incidents of damage or desecration of Jewish property in the first six months of 2017, 56 direct anti-Semitic threats, 12 cases of mass-mailed anti-Semitic leaflets or emails, along with anti-Semitic graffiti and one-off cases of hate mail.

The previous record high was in the first half of 2009, when CST recorded 629 anti-Semitic incidents. 

Mr Delew said: "CST has again recorded an unprecedented number of anti-Semitic incidents, with figures now almost twice as bad as five years ago.

"Some of this may be down to improved reporting, but it is sadly clear that the overall situation has deteriorated."

Home Secretary Amber Rudd MP said: "Anti-Semitism has no place in this country, which prides itself on openness, diversity and tolerance.

"This Government's Hate Crime Action Plan has improved the response of law enforcement to these deplorable crimes, including encouraging more victims to report incidents directly to police or via trusted organisations such as CST. This may partly explain the increase in reported incidents.

"But I am clear that one such incident is one too many and we will continue to do everything we can to stamp out the hatred and division that blights our communities.

"That is why we are providing £13.4 million to protect Jewish sites and made available £900,000 for innovative schemes to tackle various types of hate crime."

National policing lead for the issue, Assistant Chief Constable Garry Shewan, said: "There is never any excuse for abuse, racism or hate crime.

"Police forces are committed to working with CST to respond to all instances of hate crime and protect the Jewish community from this abuse.

"I want to encourage anyone who is targeted in this way to report to their local police - you will be listened to, taken seriously, and officers will do all they can to bring offenders to justice."

Earlier this month, authorities were accused of betraying British Jews by failing to crack down on anti-Semitic crime.

Anti-Semitic crimes recorded by police forces around the UK increased by 14.9% in 2016, according to the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism.

But at the same time, the number of charges fell "drastically" - with alleged perpetrators charged in fewer than a tenth of cases, the group claimed.

It warned that a consistently elevated level of anti-Semitic crime has become the "new normality" for British Jews over the past few years.