Is being rude and setting out to cause offence a crime? The latest Home Office data shows that religious hate incidents rose by 40%, from 5,949 to 8,336 from April 2017 to May 2018. Overall hate incidents rose to 94,098, up 17% over the aforesaid period. Of those, 71,251 were marked as race hate.
If you want a definition of hate crime, the BBC provides one:
“Hate crime is defined as an offence which the victim considers to be driven by hostility towards their race, religion, sexual orientation, disability or transgender identity.”
It’s subjective. If you think the offence was powered by the alleged villain’s prejudice, then it was. And what is meant by “hostility”? The CPS explains it employs the “everyday understanding of the word” which includes “ill-will, spite, contempt, prejudice, unfriendliness, antagonism, resentment and dislike”. Being unfriendly could be a crime.
And – get this: the CPS will “accept the victim’s perspective, even where we are unable to identify sufficient evidence to prosecute the case as a hate crime”. To say it is, is to establish a truth.
Crimes targeted at people because of their sexual orientation made up 12% of the total (11,638), with religious hatred at 9%, disability hate 8% (7,226) and transgender hate crimes 2% (1,651).
Do we hate more? Do loud mouths and the criminally minded pick on soft targets for abuse? Do some people complain more than others? And is being a nasty, racist sod online the same as screaming into someone’s face in the street or firebombing a kosher restaurant? The CPS says it is all on the same page.
Be in no doubt that hate crime numbers can only rise:
According to the police figures, the number of hate crimes has more than doubled since 2012/13, when 42,255 were recorded. And one quirk of the figures is that a single hate crime offence can be recorded more than once if it is deemed to have multiple motivations – for example, if an individual feels that they were targeted because of their race and their religion.
So an elderly, one-eyed, heterosexual, black, female, French Jew dressed as a teenage Goth can be the victim of nine hate crimes at once.
And there are more quirks. The BBC adds:
Curiously, police recorded 237 incidents where the perceived target religion was “no religion” at all. We’ve asked the Home Office to explain how that can be a religious hate crime – they don’t know why the police recorded the figures that way. They stress that this is the first set of statistics and – as such – is experimental, adding that it will be improved in the future…
One element these figures simply don’t cover is sectarianism – where one branch or sect of a faith targets another. While this is fully understood in Northern Ireland, it goes less noticed in the UK, despite the fact that it does happen.
There is definitely evidence of tensions between some Sunni and Shia Muslims, the two traditions of Islam, and documented persecution of the separate small Ahmadiyya community, which is theologically rejected by others.
Confused? Don’t worry if you are – the police can read minds. They’re in control of this. If they believe hate was involved in a crime, the miscreant can expect an “uplift” in their sentence. Good-oh.