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Government is serious about stamping out hate crime

November 24, 2016 23:20

Recent weeks have exposed deeply disturbing intolerance and divisions within British society.

The spike in hate crime following the referendum may have receded, but it would be naïve to assume we were simply witnessing the shockwaves from a momentous, one-off event.

This week the Community Security Trust revealed that the first six months of the year saw the second highest level of antisemitic incidents ever recorded.

Members of our Jewish communities suffered verbal and physical attacks while going about their daily business, the walls of their homes and businesses were daubed with vile and offensive graffiti, while many have faced sickening and sustained online abuse.

Antisemitism has not always been taken seriously in some parts of our society, but there is no excuse for discrimination of any kind. It doesn't matter if antisemitic incidents are perpetrated by the far right, the far left, Islamic extremists or internet trolls. Hate crimes must be seen for what they are - and condemned.

The UK has strong legislation against racially and religiously motivated crime, and all antisemitic crimes should be rigorously prosecuted. Significant progress has been made by the Crown Prosecution Service and the police to publicise all arrests and prosecutions relating to antisemitism, to show it is taken seriously.

The government is also taking action to ensure the safety and security of the Jewish community, with more than £13.4m provided to ensure the security of Jewish faith schools, synagogues and communal buildings.

These are important steps, but we also want to create an environment that prevents antisemitic hate crime from happening in the first place. Young people are the main victims and perpetrators of hate crime, and unless we work to challenge prejudice and educate young people, hate crime will continue.

That's why my department will now invest a further £1m in new projects to help prevent hate crime in our schools, and stamp out prejudice and discrimination wherever it occurs.

We'll fund the Anne Frank Trust, which educates young people in London and the West Midlands about the damage caused by prejudice and hatred; Streetwise, which tackles so-called "casual" anti-Muslim and antisemitic abuse in school playgrounds; and True Vision, who support young people exposed to hate material online and through social media.

Support for these projects is part of the four-year Hate Crime Action Plan, which will tackle all forms of hate crime by boosting reporting, protecting victims and targeting perpetrators with tougher sentencing.

We have all been horrified by the attacks experienced by Jewish communities in Paris, Copenhagen, Brussels and Toulouse. And while British Jews are less anxious about prejudice than elsewhere in Europe, that is no reason for complacency.

Discrimination and extremist behaviour has no place in our country, and I will ensure this government remains at the centre of efforts to stamp out antisemitism.

Sajid Javid is the Communities and Local Government Secretary

November 24, 2016 23:20

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