Dave Rich

Why are far too few antisemitic hate crimes prosecuted?

Met Police and the CPS have all the right policies for tackling Jew-hate – but we need results


London, England, UK - December 7, 2014: Westminster Magistrates' Court is a magistrates' court at 181 Marylebone Road, London. The court opened on 22 September 2011. The Chief Magistrate of England and Wales, who is the Senior District Judge of England and Wales, sits at the court, and all extradition and terrorism-related cases pass through it.

February 03, 2022 11:32

It seems like every week brings more news of another disturbing antisemitic attack in London. The latest incident involved CCTV footage of two Orthodox Jewish men in Stamford Hill being viciously assaulted by a passer-by.

The suspect for this alleged hate crime was quickly arrested, but in other cases the wheels of justice seem to be stuck. The Metropolitan Police issued images of the racist gang that attacked a bus of young Israelis celebrating Chanukah on Oxford St last November, but there is no news of any arrests.

The same goes for the horrific assault of a Jewish man in West Hampstead by an attacker with a knife shouting about killing Jews. Again, a witness appeal and CCTV image were released, but so far to no avail.

Then there are all the other antisemitic hate crimes that happen every week but don’t get any publicity. A lot of these come to CST and we help victims and witnesses with their police reports and court appearances. Our CCTV control centre supplies evidence and CST staff give expert witness statements.

Despite this, too often we find that the first police on the scene are too slow or don’t understand the seriousness of the matter, or the subsequent investigation misses vital evidence. The Met Police are genuinely trying to improve their performance when it comes to anti-Jewish hate crime, but they would be the first to admit that investigations can sometimes drag on for an unacceptable amount of time or just dry up completely.

This is a national problem. According to the most recent Home Office figures, 22% of all religious hate crimes in England and Wales targeted Jews, even though we are one of the smallest faith communities.

Nobody knows how many antisemitic hate crimes are prosecuted each year, because the Crown Prosecution Service is not able to produce that data. But the sense is that too few cases reach court; and when they do, the pandemic-induced backlog means that by the time they come to trial the community has already moved on, and the positive PR benefit of a successful conviction is lost.

The Met Police and the CPS have all the right policies for tackling antisemitism. Their hate crime specialists and senior officers understand what is at stake. But that all counts for little if the frontline work of responding to, and investigating, hate crimes fails to deliver vital results.

February 03, 2022 11:32

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