Ministers urged to heed 'wake-up call' amid spike in transphobic hate crime

Posted On: 
15th October 2019

A 37% year-on-year rise in hate crime against transgender people should be a “wake-up call" for ministers, campaigners have declared.

Transgender-motivated attacks saw the highest rise out of hate crime strands in 2018/19.
Credit: 
PA

The latest hate crime figures from the Home Office show that there were 2,333 recorded transphobic crimes in 2018/19 - up from 1,703 in 2017/18.

LGBT people accounted for the highest rise in recorded offences since 2017/18, with hate crimes motivated by sexual orientation also seeing a sharp increase of 25%.

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Figures taken from police forces across England and Wales show that hate crime overall, broken down into race, religion, sexual orientation, disability and transgender, had increased by 10% for 2018/19.

Racist attacks continued to make up the majority of reported hate crimes, at 78,991 offences - more than five times higher than the second-most reported category of homophobic crimes at 14,491 incidents.

Nick Antijoule, the head of hate crime services at LGBT+ anti-violence charity Galop urged ministers to take urgent action. 

"At Galop we've seen a stark increase in the severity and scale of anti-LGBT violence and abuse over the past few years," he told PoliticsHome.

"This appears to be a symptom of emergent anti-LGBT attitudes and social division across society. 

"The fact that anti-LGBT hate crime figures are rising so much faster than race, faith and disability hate crime should be a wake up call for policy makers. We urge action now to address this problem before it escalates further."

Meanwhile LGBT+ charity Stonewall said the figures were just the “tip of the iceberg”.

Stonewall's director of campaigns, policy and research Laura Russell said: “As worrying statistics like this demonstrate, lesbian, gay, bi and trans people still face hatred simply because of who they are. 

"While it is possible that the increase is due to higher confidence in reporting, these figures are still likely to only represent the tip of the iceberg when it comes to hate crimes against LGBT people. From our research into hate crime, we know that four in five anti-LGBT hate crimes go unreported, with younger people particularly reluctant to go to the police.

"Stonewall would encourage anyone who’s experienced a hate crime to report it, and we’re working with police services to help LGBT people feel more confident to do so. We also need consistency across sentencing, ensuring that anti-LGBT offences are treated as seriously as other hate crimes. But we all have a part to play in making our society more accepting. 

"Now more than ever, it is time for everyone who cares about equality to stand together as one united community to ensure everyone is free to be themselves."

Recorded hate crimes against disabled people also rose by 14% in the last year.

The report said the fact that hate crime against LGBT and disabled people had seen the biggest percentage increases year-on-year was “partly due” to the smaller number of offences compared to other forms of hate crime.

It added: “However, they may also suggest that increases are due to the improvements made by the police in their identification and recording of these hate crime offences and more people coming forward to report these crimes rather than a genuine increase. 

"However, genuine increases cannot be ruled out."

More than half of hate crimes recorded by police were public order offences - 54% - while violence against the person made up 36% of incidents. 

Labour's shadow secretary of state for women and equalities Dawn Butler accused the government of not taking transphobic hate crime seriously.

"What more will it take for the government to act? Delays in bringing forward reform only puts transgender people at risk and cause further distress for the LGBT+ community," she said.

"The government has had almost a year to consider responses to the consultation and there’s simply no justification for further delay. We need urgent action now.”

'BLAME THE OTHER'

Speaking at the Home Affairs Committee, Jo Cox Foundation chief executive Catherine Anderson said the figures were "not all that surprising" - and said it was an overall smaller increase than last year.

Charity ambassador Kim Leadbeater, the sister of Labour MP Jo Cox, who was killed by a far-right activist in 2017, warned that Britian risked plunging into a “blame the other” culture.

“I think there’s a frustration, a frustration across the country, people feeling disillusioned, people feeling disengaged and I think that’s where the link back to politics comes, that people feel that they don't have a say in things they feel frustrated and angry and the easiest thing to do when you feel that way is to blame the other, is to blame someone who is not like you,” she said.

“Until we start taking a holistic approach by looking at all these different organisations and influences within society, hate crime in towns and villages is not going to get any better.”

Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott said: “It’s a shocking indictment of this government that all types of recorded hate crime have at least doubled under the Tories. The rise in some categories of hate crime is even worse.

“It was the Tories who cut the police, and let down whole communities. But it has also been the incendiary words of politicians who have created a toxic atmosphere, including the Prime Minister whose comments comparing Muslim women to 'bank robbers' and 'letterboxes' took place while Islamophobic hate crime is rising. Ministers should accept that they bear a major responsibility for these terrible trends.”