The myth of rising hate crime

Britain has never been less hateful.

Fraser Myers

Fraser Myers
Staff writer

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Topics Politics UK

Hate crimes have ‘doubled’ in the past six years, if you believe headlines in the Guardian, the Telegraph and the Daily Mail. The BBC reports a less dramatic but still shocking 10 per cent rise in hate crime compared to last year, from 94,121 to 103,379 offences in England and Wales. Every year, the press presents terrifying figures illustrating an apparent explosion in hate crime. But there is no evidence that hate crime is on the rise.

Every year, the same, small caveat appears in the Home Office’s hate-crime report: ‘The increases seen over the last five years are thought to have been driven by improvements in crime recording by the police… These improvements are thought to be the main drivers for the increases seen.’

Every year, in contrast to the media’s frightful certainty, the Home Office report is full of ‘mights’, ‘mays’ and other bet-hedging. Take hate crime against trans people. Apparently there has been a surge of 37 per cent in these crimes on last year. But the Home Office report is much more guarded: it says that ‘improvements made by the police’ in ‘identification’ and ‘recording’ are the most likely cause of the rise, but ‘genuine increases cannot be ruled out’. In other words, alarming statistics showing a huge rise in transphobic hate crime of 37 per cent may or may not have any relation to actual crimes, according to the people who compiled the statistics.

Rises in hate crime have been blamed on everything from Brexit to Boris’s outburst on the burqa. This year, The Times and the Mail blamed uncivil language on social media for stoking hate. But the real blame for the surge is the release of the College of Policing’s Hate Crime Operational Guidance in 2014, which is still used to this day. This guidance actually demands that the numbers increase. ‘Targets that see success as reducing hate crime are not appropriate’, it says. Since then there have also been a number of awareness-raising campaigns around hate crime, particularly in the wake of the EU referendum. In 2017, London mayor Sadiq Khan launched the Metropolitan Police’s ‘Online Hate Crime Hub’. Unsurprisingly, police-recorded hate crime has gone up every year since 2014 without fail. In comparison, over the same period, the crime rate more broadly has remained relatively stable.

In fact, when you look at statistics that are, according to the Home Office, ‘unaffected by changes in recording practice’, you find the complete opposite. The Crime Survey for England and Wales doesn’t provide information on short-term rises and falls but over the long term the trend is clear: over the past decade, it shows a fall in hate crime of 40 per cent. The CPS’s prosecution statistics paint a similar picture. Despite surges in the number of reports made to the police, the number of people actually being prosecuted for hate crimes has also fallen. Hate-crime prosecutions peaked in 2015-16 with 15,442 and have fallen every year since to 11,881 in 2017-18 (the latest year available).

But the problems with police-recorded hate crime don’t end there. Police are obliged to record not only criminal actions but also all non-crime hate incidents. A non-crime hate incident is literally any event that is perceived by the victim or any other person to be motivated by hostility towards a so-called protected characteristic. ‘Perceived’ is the key word here. As the Operational Guidance makes clear: ‘The victim does not have to justify or provide evidence of their belief, and police officers or staff should not directly challenge this perception. Evidence of the hostility is not required for an incident or crime to be recorded as a hate crime or hate incidents.’

In other words, for an incident to appear in the police-recorded hate-crime data, there does not have to be any evidence of any ‘hatred’, nor does the incident even have to be a crime. The only real basis for establishing that a hate crime took place is that somebody reported it to the police. ‘Racist’ non-crime incidents recorded by police as hate crimes over the past five years have included a dog fouling on a neighbour’s lawn, a woman beeping a car, and a speech by Amber Rudd.

Sometimes the ‘hateful’ nature of a crime is later disproven, but that makes no difference to the statistics. Take the manslaughter of Arek Jozwik, a Polish man living in Harlow, which was leapt on by Remain commentators as evidence of a Brexit-motivated racist murder. Police also recorded it as a hate crime. And even though it became apparent in investigations that there was no racial motive, Jozwik’s tragic, accidental killing remains recorded as a hate crime.

Clearly, the police-recorded data tells us very little about prejudice in modern Britain. We should take media reports of rising hatred with a huge serving of salt. And we should be even more wary of those who use this narrative for propaganda purposes.

Fraser Myers is a staff writer at spiked and host of the spiked podcast. Follow him on Twitter: @FraserMyers.

Picture by: Getty.

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Comments

Willie Penwright

21st October 2019 at 8:47 am

I regard myself as a misgendered sehale and dress accordingly. I have also altered my physical appearance with tatoos and metal implants to express my sehaleness but find myself being hate-stared at when shopping in the High Street. Hate-staring is as serious a crime as hate speech.

Bunny Whisperer

18th October 2019 at 6:43 pm

Anyone can grossly inflate the stats by using local council magazines and the like to solicit “hate crime” reporting. In my local (taxpayer funded) council’s monthly magazine, delivered to each resident’s doorstep by the local authority, residents were not only instructed to “report hate crime”, but also reminded that the law requires no evidence, and that the “perception of the victim” is enough to make somethng a hate crime in this new Orwellian atmosphere that encourages citizens to police one another’s blasphemous speech while short-circuiting civilized debate. If I were pushing for even more protection for my ideoligical “victim” group so that I could gain yet more privilege and protection from the heinous crime of differing opinion, I know what I’d do!!

Michael Lynch

17th October 2019 at 11:35 pm

If you preach at and harangue people long enough then they’ll become the very thing you are accusing them of. It’s as old as the human race.

Christopher Tyson

17th October 2019 at 8:30 pm

Paraphrasing from memory, there’s an Oscar Wilde character who says ‘you like everyone, or rather you are indifferent to them’. Jesus warned of the dangers of seeing the speck in the eye of the other while not noticing the beam in our own. I’ve remarked before of the visceral reaction I’ve received to things I’ve posted here by people who are, let’s call them far right, even thought they would resist this label. The centrist, liberal, and leftists who are generally my target do not react at all. This is interesting for an existentialist (I might accept or reject that label). For my rightist critics, my existence is not in doubt, my existence is a profound disturbance for them. For the liberals I scarcely exist, like Ralph Ellison’s invisible man. To be part of the anti-racist narrative you must play your allotted role, does anyone remember when Chuka Umunna was hailed as the ‘British Obama’? And we have Stormzy the misunderstood ‘dangerous’ radical with a soft heart. I once called this syndrome ‘muggers and messiahs’. Those who reveal the unconscious biases of others, imply their own pure hearts, those who proclaim our ‘post-truth’ world assume their own truthfulness, those who see racism everywhere presume their own virtue. There are many ways to include and exclude. Those with social power can find myriad ways to control and influence people, to include and exclude. In media, in the corporate world in politics, who hands out the jobs and the money? They don’t need to be racist to exclude the black people that they don’t like, indeed an employer can take on countless black people to whom he is indifferent, while excluding the one he doesn’t like, with a perfect alibi. Forgiveness was the great innovation of Christianity. This strange idea, but forgiveness is not about the perpetrator, it is about the victimised, it is about coming to terms, dealing with your own negativity. Even under siege, a siege mentality will not help you. The old anarchist story is about people whose legs are bound at birth, they become accomplished at hopping around, when a ‘threat’ to remove their bandages emerges, they resist violently. We can witness this danger, a siege mentality and victimhood become part of the sense of self and purpose, the possibility of freedom is no longer imagined or desired.

Amma Zombi

17th October 2019 at 4:11 pm

Orwell warned us of this.

Ian Davies

17th October 2019 at 2:54 pm

I suppose if you widen the definition of hate crime to include such banalities as calling a fella he when he wears a skirt, then the hate crime numbers may indeed rise.

Linda Payne

17th October 2019 at 2:18 pm

I’m 58 and seen a lot of changes; racism is down, homophobia is down but that is a cultural change and nothing to do with political correctness; what PC has done is even worse, people are scared of saying ANYTHING in case they are accused of something, this is worse because without free speech and free debate we will never get anywhere

fret slider

17th October 2019 at 1:23 pm

Lets be honest, if you believe headlines in the Guardian, the Telegraph and the Daily Mail etc.

Education was wasted on you.

Life Coach

17th October 2019 at 1:04 pm

If so called ‘hate’ crimes increase then it’s a great excuse to control people even more.

steve moxon

17th October 2019 at 10:32 am

[Re-written using male/female in place of the s word to see if it gets through this site’s dumb censorship]
‘HC’ is ‘identity politics’ nonsense in action, but it spectacularly backfires in most victims being not female but male. Notwithstanding anticipated usual heavy male under-reporting, a very clear pattern nevertheless emerges in the UK in line with the inversion of expectation re negative attitudes re males/females, as found in my review of last year. There are far more male than female ‘HC’ victims: 68% male and 28% female, according to a new DEMOS / University of Sussex major research project (Walters and Krasodomski-Jones, 2018) — a more than 2:1 preponderance. This is echoed in the CPS HC Data Reports, which for 2016-2017 showed totals of 6,452 male and 3,731 female victims, and for 2017-2018, 6,003 male and 3,566 female victims; both years showing an almost 2:1 male:female differential. Included, though buried in the data, are breakdowns re each form of HC (bar, for no stated reason against the elderly). In each domain there are more male than female victims — significantly or substantially more — with the exception of the TS domain, where the differential is reversed through male-to-female TS recorded as female notwithstanding that they remain clearly male in appearance. In fact, the preponderance of TS male over female victims is notably apparent in other survey, if those counted as male are birth-male TS: Witten & Eyler (1999) and James et al (2016) find those ‘transitioning’ from male to female overwhelmingly are the victims of TS ‘HC’. The fully across-category excess of male victims of ‘HC’ is a clear demonstration that in the ‘intersection’ of male-female with other ‘identity politics’ / ‘PC’ categories (’protected characteristics’), it trumps all. ‘Intersectionality’ does not hold. Despite the data in the 2016-2017 HC Data Report being abundantly clear, there is not even mention anywhere within the main text of the large male/female differential in victimhood, either overall or in respect of each domain, ostensibly because of the substantial proportion of cases (usually about a quarter to a third) where male/female is recorded. Yet there is not only no reason to expect other than that the profound skew would continue in this portion of the data, but that it would intensify, because of a key demand characteristic additional to more usual ones, all skewing the data away from the recording of male vctims. As well as usual male under-reporting, if not also female over-reporting, it is far more likely that ‘male’ is not recorded but ‘female’ IS, given that ‘female’ but not ‘male’ is a ‘protected characteristic’ in the politics that the concept of ‘hate crime’ was set up to serve.

steve moxon

17th October 2019 at 10:22 am

‘Hate crime’ is ‘identity politics’ nonsense in action, but it spectacularly backfires in most victims being not female but male — notwithstanding anticipated usual heavy male under-reporting — in line with the inversion of expectation re negative attitudes and sex, as found in my review of last year (finding no scientific basis of any kind for misogyny as that term is nowadays understood). There are far more male than female ‘hate crime’ victims: 68% male and 28% female, according to a new DEMOS / University of Sussex major research project (Walters and Krasodomski-Jones, 2018) — a more than 2:1 preponderance. This is echoed in the CPS Hate Crime Data Reports, which for 2016-2017 showed totals of 6,452 male and 3,731 female victims, and for 2017-2018, 6,003 male and 3,566 female victims; both years showing an almost 2:1 male:female sex differential. Included, though buried in the data, are breakdowns by sex of victim for each form of ‘hate crime’ (bar, for no stated reason against the elderly). In each domain there are more male than female victims — significantly or substantially more — with the exception of the ‘transphobic’ domain, where the sex differential is reversed through male-to-female ‘trans-sexuals’ recorded as being female (‘trans-women’), notwithstanding that they remain clearly male in appearance. In fact, the preponderance of ‘trans-sexual’ male over female victims is notably apparent in other survey, if those counted as male are birth-male ‘trans-sexuals’: Witten & Eyler (1999) and James et al (2016) find those ‘transitioning’ from male to female overwhelmingly are the victims of ‘trans’ ‘hate crime’. The fully across-category excess of male victims of ‘hate crime’ is a clear demonstration that in the ‘intersection’ of sex with other ‘identity politics’ / ‘PC’ categories (’protected characteristics’), sex trumps all. ‘Intersectionality’ does not hold. Despite the data in the 2016-2017 Hate Crime Data Report being abundantly clear, there is not even mention anywhere within the main text of the large sex differential in victimhood, either overall or in respect of each domain, ostensibly because of the substantial proportion of cases (usually about a quarter to a third) where no sex is recorded. Yet there is not only no reason to expect other than that the profound skew would continue in this portion of the data, but that it would intensify, because of a key demand characteristic additional to more usual ones, all skewing the data away from the recording of male victims. As well as usual male under-reporting, if not also female over-reporting, it is far more likely that the sex of the victim remains unrecorded in the case of males, whereas it is far more likely that it is recorded in the case of females, given that ‘female’ but not ‘male’ is a ‘protected characteristic’ in the politics that the concept of ‘hate crime’ was set up to serve.

Puddy Cat

17th October 2019 at 9:46 am

There are two intangibles, what constitutes ‘hate’ and what is ‘bullying’. The examination of both was probably required and there may have been an understanding at the outset as to what they were. Over time all manner of bits and bobs have accreted until, in both cases, anything reported can pass as meeting the criteria. We do not need the Stasi in Britain..We do not need fifth columnists. The whole population has been turned to a gigantic state funded operation of illiberal posturing. Hate can now be the desire not to have he company of, bullying can be the chiding of a trainer in sport or in the turning of people away from danger. We are not free to associate with those that we have some liking for or a shared view we are but passive enablers. Bullying is straight from the playground, where it can be a problem amongst a cohort of forming minds, but in adult life no one can be bullied who doesn’t give it any regard.

Ven Oods

17th October 2019 at 9:42 am

“Clearly, the police-recorded data tells us very little about prejudice in modern Britain.”
I’d beg to differ, there, Fraser. The way that the police are encouraged to record this stuff is a part of prejudice in modern Britain. A good example would be the cack-handed statement about Carl Beech’s testimony being ‘credible and TRUE’. How much more prejudicial could a statement by the police possibly be?

Francis Lonergan

17th October 2019 at 9:33 am

Hate is not a crime.

Mister Joshua

17th October 2019 at 12:44 am

The perception of victimhood is what the preachers of hate politics want, because appears to rationalize what they do: preach hate politics.

https://theredfootedbooby.com/2019/03/27/to-be-a-bully-you-must-first-become-a-victim-welcome-to-the-age-of-political-correctness/

It’s age-old tactic of the political correctness high priests. Convince the public that “society” is bullying you and the public will tolerate, or even support, your own bullying. Your perceived vengeance.

This is a sick game. All the sicker because taxpayers pay for it by bankrolling the colleges and universities that employ these hate preachers.

Andrew Leonard

17th October 2019 at 10:26 am

“All the sicker because taxpayers pay for it by bankrolling the colleges and universities that employ these hate preachers.”

So an underlying issue is the public’s eternal attraction to free stuff

Mister Joshua

18th October 2019 at 1:03 am

Yes, there’s that. There’s also the fact that once the public creates these massive institutions and bureaucracies they don’t want to be bothered with oversight, auditing, and ensuring quality.

It’s as though once the tax dollar leaves the public’s fingers the public thinks its job is done.

Wrong.

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