Hate crimes have rocketed by nearly a fifth in England and Wales, latest figures reveal.
There were 94,098 such offences recorded in 2017/18, an increase of 17 per cent on the previous year, while statistics show the figure has doubled since 2013/2014.
The Home Office said the increase was partly due to more victims coming forward in light of the #MeToo era, with victims feeling more empowered to report offences.
Police officers are also recording more offences as hate crimes, with some forces such as Greater Manchester logging hostility towards ‘alternative sub-culture’ such as goths under the same heading.
Five strands of hate crime are monitored centrally, namely race or ethnicity, religion or beliefs, sexual orientation, disability and transgender identity.
Data from the Home Office shows that the sharpest rise was in religious hate crime, which rose by 40 per cent from 5,949 in 2016/17
The Home Office is currently considering whether or not hostility towards men or the elderly could become hate crimes following a review of existing laws.
It is understood that misandry – prejudice against men – and ageism as well as misogyny could soon be considered under the same umbrella term.
The terms of reference to the review said it will consider “whether crimes motivated by, or demonstrating, hatred based on sex and gender characteristics, or hatred of older people or other potential protected characteristics, should be hate crimes”.
Meanwhile, Labour MP Stella Creasy has been leading a campaign calling for verbal abuse or cat-calling of women to be punishable in the same way.
More offences against minorities are being reported in the #MeToo era, with victims feeling empowered to share their stories.
Of the 94,098 hate crimes recorded, 71,251 were classed as race hate crimes and 11,638 (12 per cent) offences were triggered by sexual orientation.
In 8,336 (9 per cent) offences, religion was a factor, while 7,226 (8 per cent) were motivated because of someone’s disability.
Labour MP Stella Creasy (pictured) has been leading a campaign calling for verbal abuse or cat-calling of women to be punishable as a hate crime. Shown right is hate crime victim Stephen Lawrence, who was murdered by white thugs in 1993
Meanwhile, 1,651 (2 per cent) were recorded by police officers as transgender hate crimes.
Some offences are classed more than once because they have more than one motivation.
What constitutes a hate crime?
A hate crime is when a person commits a crime against another person because of their disability, gender identity, race, sexual orientation or religion.
Officially it is is defined as ‘any criminal offence which is perceived by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by hostility or prejudice based on a person’s race or perceived race; religion or perceived religion; sexual orientation or perceived sexual orientation; disability or perceived disability and any crime motivated by hostility or prejudice against a person who is transgender or perceived to be transgender’.
These five strands – namely race or ethnicity, religion or beliefs, sexual orientation, disability and transgender identity – are all accepted by police forces as being hate crime related, however some forces widen out the term to include other forms of prejudice, such as ageism and sexism.
Campaign groups are fighting to get these categories officially added to the wording of the law, making it compulsory for police officers to investigate such offences as hate crimes.
Data from the Home Office shows that the sharpest rise was in religious hate crime, which rose by 40 per cent from 5,949 in 2016/17.
The number of offences recorded as transgender hate crimes went up by 32 per cent from 1,248, disability rose by 30 per cent from 5,558, and sexual orientation increased by 27 per cent from 9,157.
The number of hate crimes according to police figures has more than doubled since 2012/13 from 42,255 to 94,098.
This is partly because of improvements in the way crimes are recorded but there have been spikes after events such as the Brexit referendum and the terrorist attacks last year.
The Home Office report said: ‘These large percentage increases across all three strands may suggest that increases are due to the improvements made by the police into their identification and recording of hate crime offences and more people coming forward to report these crimes rather than a genuine increase.’
Findings from the separate Crime Survey for England and Wales, which tracks the public’s experience of crime, suggest a drop of 40 per cent in hate crime incidents in the past decade.
The police figures showed that more than half (56 per cent) of the hate crimes recorded were for public order offences and a further third (33 per cent) were for crimes involving violence against the person.
Of the 94,098 hate crimes recorded, 71,251 were classed as race hate crimes and 11,638 (12 per cent) offences were triggered by sexual orientation
In the year ending March 2018 there were 1,065 online hate crimes.
Hate crimes and incidents are defined as those perceived to be motivated by hostility or prejudice based on a personal characteristic.
Revealed: Police forces highest rates of hate crimes
The proportion of hate crimes against different demographics of people vary widely across police forces, new data reveals.
West Midlands Police had the highest rate of race-related hate crime motivations, with 82.9% of 5,000 reasons given for the incidents ascribed to race.
Wales had the highest rate of hate crimes described as being due to sexual orientation, with it being listed as the reason in nearly a fifth of cases.
The east of England had the highest rate of disability-related hate crimes at 15.8%, compared to the next highest which was 10% in the North East.
Of nearly 8,300 reported reasons for hate crimes across the six forces in the east of England, 1,311 were due to disability.
Suffolk and Norfolk police were the top two forces with the highest proportion of hate crimes linked to disabilities respectively.
The South West had the highest proportion of transgender-related hate crimes, with it being cited as the reason in 170 out of nearly 6,600 (5.3%) cases.
However, the force with the highest rate of hate crimes being recorded as due to a victim being transgender was Cumbria, with 25 of 472 (5.3%) hate crime motivations being linked to it.
It was followed by Lincolnshire, with 19 of 463 (4.1%) and Essex with 77 of 2,2237 (3.4%) of hate crime motivations being attributed to transgender.
Five strands are monitored centrally: race or ethnicity; religion or beliefs; sexual orientation; disability; and transgender identity.
Some forces log other types of hostility under the hate crime heading, including reports of misogyny and incidents where victims were targeted because of their age or membership of an ‘alternative sub-culture’, such as goths.
Despite the increase in recorded crime, the number of completed prosecutions fell from 14,480 in 2016/17 to 14,151 in 2017/18 – a drop of 329 or 2.3 per cent.
The Crown Prosecution Service said the conviction rate in hate crime cases was 84.7 per cent, up from 83.4 per cent the previous year.
It also said tougher sentences were handed down in two-thirds of cases after prosecutors highlighted aggravating factors to judges.
Ahead of the statistics, the Government published a refreshed strategy for tackling hate crime.
The Law Commission will carry out a review to explore how to make current legislation more effective and consider if there should be additional ‘protected characteristics’ to cover offences motivated by, or demonstrating, hatred based on sex and gender characteristics, or hatred of older people.
In another step outlined in the blueprint, taxi drivers and door staff will be given guidance on spotting hate crime.
Earlier this year, a watchdog report warned that police must address shortcomings in their response ahead of a possible post-Brexit surge in reports.
Alex Mayes, of charity Victim Support, said: ‘It’s startling to see the number of hate crimes reported more than double in the last five years, although this rise does reflect a greater awareness around hate crime and an improved police response.
‘Despite these rises, hate crime remains hugely under-reported.’