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Is enough being done to tackle racial and religious tension in Croydon?

RACIST hate crimes almost doubled in Croydon last year despite crime being down overall, 2012 statistics reveal.

Although the total number of crimes across the borough was down 0.8 per cent on the previous 12 months, offences categorised as Racist and Religious Hate Crime are now being committed five times a week – a rise of 90 per cent.

A total of 32,422 crimes were recorded for Croydon in 2011, according to the latest figures, compared with 32,170 for 2012, a fall of 252 offences – the exact same number of Racist and Religious Hate Crimes recorded for 2012, up from 132 for 2011.

The police have attributed the rise to a "growing willingness" of victims to report hate crime.

But as the borough becomes increasingly diverse, with recent Census figures showing less than half of white Britons now make up the borough population (47.3 per cent), the rise in race hate crimes has reignited the debate over whether more resources are needed to help communities integrate and prevent a further increase.

Pat Reid, chairman of Croydon Black and Minority Ethnic Forum (BME), a charity that works with BME communities in the borough, said the figures are a reminder that more resources should be ploughed into education.

Mr Reid said: "It is concerning in terms of it being on the increase when everything else is going down.

"Lack of understanding can be an issue so education has a huge role to play in prevention.

"I think in general Croydon is pretty tolerant of different races. But there is always more that can be done and it would obviously be nice not to see a further increase this year."

Lee Jasper, who ran for political party Respect in the recent battle to become MP for Croydon North, said while campaigning within the community, he heard numerous stories of discrimination against multiple ethnic groups, including "escalating Islamophobia", in which Muslim families were often the victim of vandalism and verbal abuse.

Mr Jasper said: "The reality is that in the context of a continuing economic decline, racism and racial violence tend to rise as people face unemployment and scarce resources.

"As a result minority communities are scapegoated and as we are seeing now there is a subsequent increase in racial attacks."

The figures for crimes committed across the borough show violence against the person is down, along with homicide, burglary, gun crime and car crime.

However, rape, robbery and domestic abuse were up along with racist and religious hate crimes, which saw by far the sharpest increase.

The figures for 2012 show Racist and Religious Hate Crimes are also the fastest increasing crime London-wide - 7,932 for 2011 compared with 9,134 in 2012, an increase of 15.2 per cent.

The latest figures, which only record crime up until the end of November last year and the same for the year before, also show that across London, total crime stood at 813,015 for 2011 compared with 790,954 for 2012 – a fall of 2.7 per cent.

In response to the sharp increase in hate crimes, a Met Police spokesman said: "We believe increases in the number of reported offences are due to a range of factors, including a growing willingness of victims to report hate crime because of an improved awareness of our staff in identifying these offences.

"We are working with communities to increase their confidence in us so they are more likely to come forward and report incidents and so we can better understand where, when and who is committing these crimes so that we can more effectively investigate them."

Steve O'Connell, non-executive adviser for neighbourhood policing in the Mayor's Office for policing and Crime (MOPAC), said the rise in race hate crimes is "disturbing", but denied that cuts to the number of fully warranted police officers will make it harder to tackle.

He said: "We should be conscious some crime types have increased, but sometimes this is not always a bad thing because it means people are more encouraged to report them, and we must remember that [hate crime] is notoriously under reported.

"I find this one of the most abhorrent crimes.

"We are a happy and diverse borough but this is of some concern.

"The figures warrant closer inspection. At the very simple level, figures suggest we could do more in integration."

Number of offences for Croydon and London, according to police totals for 2012 and 2011: Total Crimes: 2012 - 32,170 (Croydon) 790,954 (London); 2011 - 32,422 /813,015 Homicide: 2012 - 5 (Croydon) 96 (London); 2011 - 7 (Croydon) 123 (London) Violence against person: 2012 - 6,709 (Croydon) 152,103 (London); 2011- 6,729 / 155,527 Rape: 2012 - 204 (Croydon) 3,081 (London); 2011 - 197 / 3,396 Other Sexual: 2012 - 288 (Croydon) 6,674 (London); 2011 - 284 / 6,961 Robbery: 2012 - 1,935 (Croydon) 36,274 (London); 2011 - 1,829 / 39,435 Robbery (Person): 2012 -1,752 (Croydon) 33,764 (London); 2011- 1,635 / 36,479 Robbery (Business): 2012 - 183 (Croydon) 2,510 (London); 2011 - 194 / 2,956 Burglary (Total): 2012 - 4,059 (Croydon) 94,449 (London); 2011 - 4,678 / 95,596 Burglary Residential: 2012 - 2,798 (Croydon) 62,558 (London); 2011 - 2,950 / 63,006 Burglary Non-Residential: 2012 - 1,261 (Croydon) 31,891 (London); 2011 - 1,728 / 32,590 Gun Crime: 2012 - 119 (Croydon) 1,955 (London); 2011 - 154 . 2,471 Motor Vehicle Crime: 2012 - 3,867 (Croydon) 92,677 - 3,916 - 99,459 Domestic Crime: 2012 - 2,512 (Croydon) 49,021 (London); 2011 - 2,226 / 46,253 Racist and Religious Hate Crime: 2012 - 252 (Croydon) - 9,134 (London); 2011 - 132 / 7,932 Homophobic Crime: 2012 - 23 (Croydon) 1,069 (London); 2011- 23 / 1,260

Is enough being done to tackle racial and religious tension in Croydon?

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