Muslims are the target of 52% of religious hate crime in England and Wales, police figures reveal

Muslims are the target of most religious hate crimes, it has been revealed (Picture: PA)

More than half of all religious hate crime in England and Wales is targeted at Muslims, police figures have revealed.

Most of religious hate crime – 52% of all offences – was aimed at Muslims, data published by the Home Office showed.

There has been a large surge in hate crimes directed at people because of their religious beliefs, rising by 40% from 5,949 in 2016/17.

Overall, hate crime in England and Wales rose by almost a fifth last year.

There were 94,098 hate crime offences in total in 2017/18, an increase of 17% on the previous year.

This included 71,251 classed as race hate crimes; 11,638 (12%) offences triggered by sexual orientation; 8,336 (9%) where religion was a factor; 7,226 (8%) motivated because of someone’s disability; and 1,651 (2%) were transgender hate crimes.

Some offences are classed more than once because they have more than one motivation.

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The number of offences recorded as transgender hate crimes went up by 32% from 1,248, disability rose by 30% from 5,558, and sexual orientation increased by 27% from 9,157.

The number of hate crimes according to police figures has more than doubled since 2012/13 from 42,255 to 94,098.

This is partly because of improvements in the way crimes are recorded but there have been spikes after events such as the Brexit referendum and the terrorist attacks last year.

The Home Office report said: “These large percentage increases across all three strands may suggest that increases are due to the improvements made by the police into their identification and recording of hate crime offences and more people coming forward to report these crimes rather than a genuine increase.”

The police figures showed that more than half (56%) of the hate crimes recorded were for public order offences and a further third (33%) were for crimes involving violence against the person.

In the year ending March 2018 there were 1,065 online hate crimes.

Hate crimes and incidents are defined as those perceived to be motivated by hostility or prejudice based on a personal characteristic.

Five strands are monitored centrally: race or ethnicity; religion or beliefs; sexual orientation; disability; and transgender identity.

There were more than 94,000 hate crimes in England and Wales last year (Picture: PA)

Some forces log other types of hostility under the hate crime heading, including reports of misogyny and incidents where victims were targeted because of their age or membership of an “alternative sub-culture”, such as goths.

Despite the increase in recorded crime, the number of completed prosecutions fell from 14,480 in 2016/17 to 14,151 in 2017/18 – a drop of 329 or 2.3%.

The Crown Prosecution Service said the conviction rate in hate crime cases was 84.7%, up from 83.4% the previous year.

It also said tougher sentences were handed down in two-thirds of cases after prosecutors highlighted aggravating factors to judges.

Alex Mayes, of charity Victim Support, said: “It’s startling to see the number of hate crimes reported more than double in the last five years, although this rise does reflect a greater awareness around hate crime and an improved police response.

“Despite these rises, hate crime remains hugely under-reported.”