Today’s figures on conviction rates of perpetrators of racism show an small increase in the rate of prosecutions (2%), but in the context of a 13% rise of the number of racist crimes referred to the CPS. The figures also show a rise in cases of religious hatred, with half the cases affecting Muslims or people who were perceived as being Muslims.
Lee Jasper, Secretary of the National Assembly Against Racism said: ‘These figures indicate a national rise in the incidence of racism, an unacceptable situation for us all. It is deeply worrying that racist attacks continue to blight the lives of individuals and families, and that a substantial proportion of the perpetrators, just under a quarter, are not prosecuted by the Crown Prosecution Service. We believe there is a culture of refusal to prosecute and even hear some of these cases by certain members of the judiciary and that, if true, is unacceptable. The criminal justice system as a whole is on notice to improve the investigation and prosecution of racist crimes, if our communities are to be protected by the laws that exist and must be implemented.
The rise of crimes aggravated by religious hatred also shows the importance of the proposed legislation on this matter. Since September 11, much of the rise in this type of crime is linked to the climate of hostility and hatred has developed towards Muslims. There is a responsibility on government, politicians and the media to oppose this trend vigorously and to ensure those who are peddling religious hatred are brought to justice.
Iqbal Sacranie, Secretary-General of the Muslim Council of Britain said: “These figures confirm what we have been hearing from British Muslims up and down the country and they provide empirical evidence of a rise in Islamophobia in Britain. It is encouraging that Muslim victims now appear to have more confidence in reporting these crimes and that they are not suffering in silence.
However, unless the rate of those charged and convicted for committing these offences also show a corresponding increase, we are concerned that it may result in a decrease in confidence in our judicial system. We hope that all sections of our criminal justice system including the police, the CPS, our courts and judges, study these findings seriously.”