Hate crimes rose sharply following the series of terror attacks in the UK earlier this year, according to new figures.
The National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) has revealed there was an increase in abuse in the days following the atrocities in Westminster, Manchester and London Bridge.
There was no such increase following June’s attack in Finsbury Park, north London, when a van was driven into Muslim worshippers.
Police recorded 234 hate crime incidents 48 hours after the Westminster Bridge attack – with 273 reported following the Manchester bombing and 319 recorded two days after the London Bridge attack.
On average, there were 171 hate crimes per day in 2016.
The spikes were described as a real concern by police chiefs.
The biggest increase came after the Manchester Arena bombing – the deadliest in the UK since the 2005 London bombings – with a 50% rise in hate crime in the week of the attack compared with a year before.
The NPCC estimates the vast majority of increases were driven by race or faith hate crimes.
Two days after the Finsbury Park attack, 223 incidents were reported – but the NPCC said the number of hate crime incidents was lower than average.
The week of that attack saw a 7% fall in hate crime compared with the same week in 2016.
The NPCC has urged some caution over the figures, as levels of hate crime tend to be higher in the summer and at weekends – such as when the London Bridge attack took place.
More incidents are also reported when there is an increased visible police presence, as occurred in the aftermath of this year’s attacks.
The comparison with 2016’s figures will also be affected by the spike following the EU referendum result and a difference in data collection between the two years, the NPCC added.
Assistant chief constable Mark Hamilton, the NPCC’s lead for hate crime, said: We know that terrorist attacks and other national and global events have the potential to trigger short-term spikes in hate crime and so we have been carefully monitoring community tensions following recent horrific events.
Reporting from police forces show that levels of hate crime peaked in the wake of the attacks but quickly subsided within a few days.
This is in line with trends we have seen before, though obviously still a real concern for the police service and wider society.
Baroness Williams of Trafford, the minister for countering extremism, said: All forms of hate crime are completely unacceptable and those who commit these awful crimes should be met with the full force of the law.
We are clear that a single hate crime attack is one too many and we will do everything we can to wipe out hatred and division in our communities.
Police urged anyone feeling vulnerable to hate crime to call 101 or visit the True Vision website.
(c) Sky News 2017: Hate crime levels surged in days after UK terror attacks