Huge rise in number of racist attacks

Record numbers of racist incidents – from verbal abuse to stabbings – are being reported to police, fuelling fears that levels of Islamophobia are rising.

More than 61,000 complaints of racially motivated crime were made in 2006-07, a rise of 28 per cent in just five years, with increases reported by most police forces in England and Wales. Officers classified 42,551 of the complaints as racially or religiously aggravated offences. Nearly two thirds were offences of harassment, 13 per cent wounding, 12 per cent criminal damage and 10 per cent assault.

In a report on race and the criminal justice system, the Ministry of Justice also disclosed that police used their powers to stop and search one million people. Black people were seven times more likely to be searched than white people and Asians twice as likely.

The biggest surge in racist incidents was recorded last year in South Yorkshire, where the number leapt by 77 per cent, and Thames Valley, where it rose by 46 per cent. The Metropolitan Police recorded a fall against the national trend of 19 per cent.

Inayat Bunglawala, spokesman for the Muslim Council of Britain, said: “We’re getting more British Muslims reporting to us that they feel anti-Muslim prejudice is increasing in society. There are incidents of attacks against mosques and Islamic schools.” Last week, Shahid Malik, Britain’s first Muslim minister, criticised what he described as growing hostility to Muslims in the UK.

Independent, 9 July 2008