The number of people prosecuted for hate crimes has fallen in the past year despite an increase in reported incidents since the Brexit referendum.
According to figures published on Tuesday, a total of 14,480 hate crime prosecutions were completed in England and Wales in 2016/2017.
This was a 6.2% drop on the previous year’s figure of 15,442.
The number of hate crimes recorded by police has increased by 29% since last year – the largest annual rise since records began.
In 2016/17 police recorded 80,393 offences where hate was deemed to be a motivating factor, compared to 62,518 in 2015/16.
Since the government began collecting such data in 2011/12, recorded hate crime has steadily increased, with the sharpest rise occurring in the last year.
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The Home Office report said: ‘The increase over the last year is thought to reflect both a genuine rise in hate crime around the time of the EU referendum and following the Westminster Bridge terrorist attack, as well as ongoing improvements in crime reporting by police.’
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) noted in its annual report there was a small increase of 0.7%, from 12,997 to 13,086, in the number of hate crime cases referred by police in 2016-17 compared with the previous year.
However, this slight rise followed a 9.6% drop in referrals from 2014/15 to 2015/16.
Home Secretary Amber Rudd said: ‘There is absolutely no place for hate crime in our society and this government is taking action to tackle it.
‘I am heartened that that more victims are more confident to come forward and report incidents of hate crime, and that police identification and recording of all crime is improving.
‘But no-one in Britain should have to suffer violent prejudice, and indications that there was a genuine rise in the number of offences immediately following each of this year’s terror attacks is undoubtedly concerning.’
The report noted four spikes in racially or religiously aggravated offences: in June 2016 and March, May and June 2017.
These spikes coincided with Britain voting to leave the EU, the Westminster Bridge attack, the Manchester Arena bombing and the attacks at Borough Market and Finsbury Park Mosque.
The data, which applies to England and Wales, splits hate crime into five categories: offences motivated by race, religion, sexual orientation, disability or transgender identity.
Offences motivated by race were the most common to be reported to police, making up 78% of last year’s hate crimes.
The largest increase was in crimes motivated by someone’s disability – 3,629 reported offences in 2015/16 rose to 5,558 last year, a rise of 53%.