Student Blog post: ‘Record hate crimes’ after EU referendum

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“’Record hate crimes’ after EU referendum” is a news article published by BBC News about the apparent rise in hate crimes after the EU Referendum. Before analysing this article it is important to first define what a hate crime is. According to the home office a hate crime is “any crime where the perpetrator’s hostility or prejudice against an identifiable group of people is a factor in determining who is victimised”.

In this article the focus is on crime motivated by race and religion. One of the first claims that is made in this article is that between July and September 2016 more than 14,000 hate crimes were reported, by looking at the statistics provided by the home office you can see that in fact only 13,925 incidents were reported. The article also claims that the numbers of reported hate crimes in July rose by 41% compared to the previous 12 months. By looking at the data you can see that this is true.  Although correct, the way they have been interpreted is very misleading. From the article the reader gets the impression that the reason the levels of hate crimes has increased is because of the EU referendum, however, by looking at the Home office’s data you can see that every year since 2013 there has been a peak in hate crimes in July.

Additionally, you can also see that the peak is increasing in size every year. Therefore, this suggests that the increase is not the result of the Brexit vote but the result of another factor such as an overall increase in hate crime or more people reporting incidents. One of the other issue with this report is how the data was collected. From that statistic you can see that the data only includes crimes which were recorded by the police. This means that hates which were not reported do not count towards the official number of hate crimes. Furthermore, what counts as a hate crime is very subjective as it covers any crime which is perceived by the victim or any other person, as a crime which is motivated by hostility or prejudice. Therefore, hate crimes may appear to be higher in certain areas when in fact those areas simply have a different definition of what a hate crime is. Overall, it is possible to see that the levels of racial and religious motivated hate crime is the highest it’s been, however, this article only looks at the claim from one point of view. In order to fully understand the levels of hate crime it is important to compare the data to previous years and question the methodology rather than just associating it with the closet political event.

Sources:

Article: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-38976087

Home Office Data: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/hate-crime-england-and-wales-2015-to-2016

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