Race crime charges in England rise by 28%

The number of people charged by police with racially aggravated offenses rose by 28% last year, figures have shown. Out of a total of 7,430 cases, 6,123 defendants were taken to court between April 2005 and April 2006, the Crown Prosecution Service said. Statistics also showed 43 people were charged with religiously-aggravated offenses, a rise of almost 27%. Ken Macdonald QC, Director of Public Prosecutions, said fears of a backlash after the London bombs were unfounded. He said: “After the 7 July bombings it was feared that there would be a significant backlash against the Muslim community and that we would see a large rise in religiously-aggravated offenses. “The fears of a large rise in offenses appear to be unfounded. He said although there were more cases in July 2005 than for any other month, the rise did not continue into August. There were 12 cases in July after the bombings, and in half the defendants referred specifically to the London bombings, he added. One prosecution involved a man from South Yorkshire throwing a brick through his Muslim neighbor’s window and blaming Muslims for the bombings on the day they went off. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to nine months in prison for religiously-aggravated public order and criminal damage. In another case, a man was given a six-month sentence for religiously aggravated common assault after he physically and verbally assaulted a Muslim waiter in an Indian restaurant. The figures showed that the actual or perceived religion of the victim was known in 22 out of 43 religiously-motivated offenses. Of those, 18 were identified as Muslim, three as Christian and one as Sikh. In race offenses, the number of defendants pleading guilty rose by 2% to 71%. Overall 87% of race cases resulted in a conviction, while for religiously-aggravated charges, 98% of defendants were convicted. Mr Macdonald said: “Racist and religiously-aggravated crimes are particularly nasty because victims are targeted solely because of their identity or beliefs. “These crimes don’t just affect individual victims and their families but whole communities.” He said since January of this year, the CPS has held a series of evenings with Muslim communities across the country, offering reassurance and information.