Racially Motivated Incidents

Women and Equalities – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 2 February 2017.

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Photo of Gerald Jones Gerald Jones Shadow Minister (Wales) 12:00, 2 February 2017

What steps she has taken in response to trends in the level of racially motivated incidents since the EU referendum.

Photo of Brandon Lewis Brandon Lewis Minister of State (Home Office) (Policing and the Fire Service)

Hopefully I can say on behalf of the entire House that all Members are clear that hate crime of any description should not and must not be tolerated. We have been working with the police, EU embassies and community groups to monitor the situation, to provide reassurance and to encourage reporting of racist incidents. Recorded hate crime has now fallen to pre-referendum levels. Police force areas continue to monitor racist incidents on an ongoing basis to ensure that any increases are addressed at the earliest opportunity.

Photo of Gerald Jones Gerald Jones Shadow Minister (Wales)

I thank the Minister for that answer. Across the UK we saw a rise in hate crime and religiously aggravated offences following the referendum—it was 41% higher in July 2016 than in July 2015. Will he inform the House of what provisions have been put in place to avoid any repetition specifically in relation to the triggering of article 50?

Photo of Brandon Lewis Brandon Lewis Minister of State (Home Office) (Policing and the Fire Service)

There are a couple of points to make to the hon. Gentleman. We have put in place the Government’s new hate crime action plan, which is taking a number of steps, for example, to boost reporting. There is also new guidance for prosecutors and a new fund to ensure that we have protective security measures and additional funding in place for community organisations so that they can tackle hate crime. I also gently say to him that the Labour party should look carefully at this morning’s CST report, which clearly indicates a 36% rise in totally unacceptable recorded anti-Semitic crime, related directly to the problems in the Labour party.

Photo of Bob Blackman Bob Blackman Conservative, Harrow East

I thank my right hon. Friend for mentioning the CST report. Clearly, the concern of the Jewish community in this country is that hate crime against Jews is on the rise. He has seen the report and the whole community wants to know what he is going to do about it, so that we stamp out anti-Semitism, once and for all.

Photo of Brandon Lewis Brandon Lewis Minister of State (Home Office) (Policing and the Fire Service)

My hon. Friend makes a good point. As I have outlined, it is important that we stamp out all forms of hate crime, which is why that action plan was put in place in July by the Home Secretary. We also all need to look at ourselves. It is clear when we look at the CST report that although we should be pleased about people having the confidence to come forward to report crime—the increase in recording is good—a rise in hate crime of any description, particularly a 36% rise such as this one, is disgraceful. I hope Members from across this House will be doing all they can to stamp that out.

Photo of Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh Shadow SNP Westminster Group Leader (Trade and Investment)

The Minister will be aware that the European Union has been a beacon of hope and a key proponent of equality for citizens’ rights across the globe. Will he categorically confirm to the House not only that the discrimination laws and rights bestowed upon people across the UK will be upheld following a UK exit from the EU, but that citizens living in the UK will not be left behind and have their rights taken hostage by Brexit?

Photo of Brandon Lewis Brandon Lewis Minister of State (Home Office) (Policing and the Fire Service)

We have been very clear all along that we want not only to stamp out hate crime, but to play an important part in this with our partners right across Europe. Indeed, in the autumn, I spoke at the EU Council on this very issue, and aside from the Commission, we were the only ones from any country to talk about it. We should be proud of the fact that this country has some of the toughest laws in the world on hate crime. Just a few weeks ago, on 19 January, we hosted some 19 countries’ embassies to talk to them about what we are doing and what can be done further to drive out hate crime.