As the Home Office begins a new campaign to raise awareness of hate crime, former Equalities and Human Rights Commission chairman Trevor Phillips has said that people need to recognise “hate crimes were conducted prior to 2016”.
talkRADIO reported on Tuesday that Mr Phillips had dismissed the notion that hate crime has increased since Brexit in a panel discussion on Monday, and he reiterated his stance to Julia Hartley-Brewer.
Asked by the presenter whether there’d been a rise in hate crime, Mr Phillips replied: “The true answer is we don’t really know.
“What we know is there’s been a rise in reported incidents, but we’ve been [better] at listening to people.
“There’s been a change in what’s regarded as hate crime - a substantial proportion of what’s considered hate crime are posts on social media.
“I was in a meeting where people were arguing Brexit had increased hate crime, I think that’s wrong, I don’t think there’s any evidence for that. And I think people are failing to recognise that prior to 2016 there were hate crimes being conducted. Attributing it to this once incident seems completely wrong.”
He added: “What I object to is race hate crime being used as an instrument in people’s arguments, particularly Brexit.
“Saying to Brexiteers, ‘I think you’re fermenting racial hatred’ - I just don’t think that’s true.”
17 per cent increase in hate crime
A poster from the Home Office's new campaign against hate crime. Image: PA
The Home Office initiative, which begins on Wednesday, aims to make clear that directing abuse at someone because of their religion, race, sexual orientation, transgender identity or disability is a criminal offence.
Films and posters depicting fictional cases include a lesbian couple being verbally abused at a bar; racist graffiti being sprayed on the shop of a foreign couple; an offender posting hate-filled messages about a transgender woman online; a Muslim woman being aggressively shouted at to remove her headscarf; a Jewish man being abused in the street; and a disabled man being verbally abused on a bus.
Statistics published earlier this month revealed that, in 2017/18, there were 94,098 hate crime offences recorded by the police in England and Wales, an increase of 17% compared with the previous year.
'There's not a rampant racial war going on'
Trevor Phillips on a panel at Queen Mary University on October 29, where he commented that there was 'no evidence' Brexit had increased hate crime. Image: Thea de Gallier
Mr Phillips said that he saw racial prejudice decrease during his tenure at the EHRC.
“On all the measures of public prejudice, racial prejudice has declined over the last decade or two,” he said.
- Read more: Recorded hate crime increases by 17%
- Police urged to respond to hate crime problems by watchdog
“The British Attitudes Survey asks people things like, ‘would you mind working for a boss of a different race, or your child marrying someone of a different race’?
“It’s quite hard to get anybody to say yes [they would mind] to any of those things.
“When I was in office and responsible for that kind of thing, the figures were between a quarter and a third of people saying they’d object to their child marrying someone of a different race.
“I think these I’m not saying these things don’t exist, but the public attitude has changed quite dramatically and that seems not to be consistent that there’s a rampant racial war going on.”