Spike in anti-Muslim hate crimes recorded in Cambridge area last year

Hate crimes against Muslims rose in Cambridgeshire last year, new data reveals.

In the six-month period from October 2012 to March 2013 there were two hate crimes against Muslims in the county. However, in the three months from April to June last year there were 12.

The brutal murder of Drummer Lee Rigby in a London street happened on May 22 last year and has been attributed with increasing Islamophobic crimes elsewhere in the country.

Cambridge MP Julian Huppert said: “These are disturbing figures relating to despicable crimes often driven by no other motive than the fact that the victim has different religious beliefs or a different colour skin.

“It’s very sad that some people can’t see beyond those differences to treat everybody equally and find out the individual qualities that everybody has. I hope that eventually we will be able to eradicate these horrendous crimes and celebrate our differences.”

Sgt Matt Gadsby, from the Community Cohesion Unit, said: “All forms of hate crime are completely unacceptable. We take all reports extremely seriously and want to give victims every confidence to report incidents.

“In Cambridge city last year we dealt with 94 recorded hate crimes and detected 59 of those offences in a range of outcomes from caution to imprisonment. We have also sought to use a number of other tactics in targeting hate crime, such as the anti-social behaviour order granted in August against David Camp.

“Hate crime in the city for December was at its lowest level since January 2012. We have an excellent relationship with both the Muslim and wider communities in Cambridge which is enhanced by having officers dedicated to both community and faith engagement.”

Figures from the police revealed the number of race and faith-based hate crimes since 2011. There were 12 hate crimes against Muslims from January 2011-December 2012. Two more occurred from January 2013-March 2013 before the spike in incidents from April-June, when 12 were recorded. The number fell, however, to one from July to September.

Many forces reported a surge in the number of anti-Muslim hate crimes after the murder of soldier Lee Rigby. Freedom of Information requests were sent by the Press Association to every police force in England and Wales. Of the 43 forces, 24 provided figures on the number of anti-Muslim crimes and incidents recorded.

Tell Mama, a group which monitors anti-Muslim incidents, said it had dealt with 840 cases since April, with the number expected to rise to more than 1,000 by the end of March. This compared with 582 anti-Muslim cases it dealt with from March 2012 to March 2013. Fiyaz Mughal, director of Faith Matters, which runs the Tell Mama project, said the reaction to the murder had caused the number of Islamophobic crimes to jump significantly.

The Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) has previously said 71 incidents were reported to its national community tension team over five days after Rigby’s murder on May 22.

Cambridge News, 20 January 2014