A four-month spike in 'hate crime' — including religiously motivated offences — following this year's terrorist attacks in the UK peaked at a higher level than the same form of crime after last year's divisive EU referendum, according to Home Office figures.
Religious hate crime accounted for 5,940, or 7 per cent of the recorded cases, according to the police, while hate crime offences rose by a record 29 per cent to 80,393 incidents in the 12 months to March 2017, according to Home Office figures published today.
The Home Office said it was spending £2.4m on protecting places of worship, plus a further £1m for vulnerable faith institutions and another £900,000 to support community projects following the attacks.
Race was deemed to be a motivating factor in nearly 80 per cent of recorded hate crime incidents, or 62,685 incidents, while sexual orientation was seen as a factor in 9,157 or 11 per cent of incidents.
A further 5,558 cases were recorded as disability hate crimes and 1,248 were considered to be motivated by transgender hate. The Home Office said the proportions summed to more than 100 per cent because it was possible for a hate crime to have more than one motivating factor.
The overall figures showed a spike in hate crime in England and Wales following the Westminster Bridge terrorist attack on 22 March as well as in the aftermath of the referendum in June 2016, police said.
Provisional police figures show that the number of crimes continued to rise until June as the Manchester Arena, London Bridge and Finsbury Park attacks followed.
Meanwhile, the Crown Prosecution Service today published data showing record numbers of stricter hate crime sentences being passed by the courts. Sentences in more than half of cases involving hostility on the grounds of race, religion, sexual orientation, disability or transgender activity reportedly increased because of this factor.
The number of hate crime incidents recorded by the police reached a record monthly level of 6,000 incidents in June this year, higher than the previous monthly peak of 5,500 in July 2016 which came in the aftermath of the EU referendum.
The shadow home secretary, Diane Abbott, said the rise in hate crime was unacceptable. 'The Tories have made great claims about tackling burning injustices. But they are clearly not tackling the great injustice of being attacked simply because of your religion, your sexuality, the colour of your skin or your disability,' she said.
The Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, agreed that there was 'absolutely no place' for hate crime in Britain but added that the Government was tackling it. She said: 'I am heartened 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.'