The number of antisemitic incidents in Britain fell by more than a fifth last year — but 2015 was still the third worst year on record.
Figures published by the Community Security Trust revealed there were 924 incidents of Jew hatred last year.
It represented a drop of 22 per cent compared to 2014, when, following the Gaza conflict, there was a significant spike resulting in 1,179 reported cases.
Home Secretary Theresa May said there were “still too many cases” of antisemitism in Britain in 2015. CST chief executive David Delew warned that the latest figures were worse than had been expected.
Incidents included two telephoned bomb threats to Jewish schools in London and Manchester, Jewish schoolboys being spat at while visiting a friend at a Manchester hospital, a cyclist throwing a stone at a Jewish man, a swastika being daubed on a Jewish home in Bournemouth, and similar graffiti at a Liverpool cemetery.
CST said there had been no major trigger incident last year, but January and February 2015 saw the most reports of antisemitism following the murders at the Hyper Cacher supermarket in Paris and the attack on a synagogue in Copenhagen.
The charity, which has charted antisemitism in Britain since 1984, said it was unclear whether better reporting mechanisms or a genuine rise in Jew hatred played a bigger role in the total number, which ranked 2015 behind only 2014 and 2009 for total incidents.
Three-quarters of the cases took place in London and Manchester, and there were 86 violent attacks, the most since 2011 and a six per cent year-on-year rise. Of those, four represented “extreme violence” and a threat to life. The vast majority were reported as “random” attacks. Almost a fifth of incidents (17 per cent) came online and through social media. But the number of reported cases in that category — 159 — was down from 234 the previous year.
Mr Delew said: “The fall in antisemitic incidents is welcome and expected although the reduction is less than we had hoped for.
“We welcome the possibility that more people are reporting incidents to CST and the police, but the number of antisemitic incidents remains unacceptably high.
“The Jewish community has a right to expect antisemitism to be opposed wherever it occurs. It should have no place in our society.”
Mrs May said: “We must challenge antisemitism wherever we find it - just as we must challenge all forms of ethnic and religious hatred and combat extremism.
“While a fall in antisemitic incidents should be welcomed, there are still too many cases of this type of hate crime. We also know that these types of crimes are often underreported. We must give victims the confidence to come forward to report these terrible acts.”
She said the government was working with CST and other communal organisations to challenge antisemitism.
CST said that it was “likely” that despite better reporting of incidents, there was still a “significant under-reporting” and that the true number of cases was “significantly higher” than recorded.
Surveys carried out across Europe in the past three years showed Jews were embarrassed to contact police if they had been targeted because of their religion, the charity said. Younger people were more reluctant to report abuse, and those targeted online were also unlikely to come forward.
Away from London and Manchester, incidents were recorded in cities and areas with sizeable Jewish communities, including Leeds, Hertfordshire, Liverpool, Birmingham and Essex. There were six reported cases of antisemitism in Bradford, west Yorkshire.
The 44-page CST report, published on Thursday, charts hundreds of episodes of Jews being abused while going about their daily lives. In 161 cases the victim was visibly Jewish – either because of religious clothing or appearance, or schoolchildren in uniform.
Synagogues were targeted on 50 occasions, down from 69 in 2014.
There were 109 incidents relating to Jewish organisations, charities, events or high-profile individuals. An increase in antisemitism was seen around schools, with 85 incidents involving Jewish teachers, pupils or schools themselves, up from 66 the previous year.
In cases where a description of the perpetrator was given, around half of offenders were described as “white, north European”, one-fifth were described as “South Asian” and 13 per cent were said to be black.
CST calculated 215 incidents “which showed far right, anti-Israel or Islamist beliefs or motivations alongside antisemitism” last year, a decrease from the previous year, which the charity said was most likely due to the reduced role of the Middle East conflict as a trigger for Jew-hatred.
The charity received an additional 686 reports last year that, after investigation, it concluded were not antisemitic and were therefore not included in the total figure. This category included dozens of examples of anti-Israel abuse or activism.
A major conference in Berlin next month will tackle the issue of rising antisemitism internationally, and MP John Mann, chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism, said the situation in Britain remained a “major cause for concern”.
The conference would “bring together Parliamentarians from around the world to share best practice and form working groups to ensure that antisemitism is tackled effectively and decisively”, he said.
Communities Secretary Greg Clark said: “Antisemitism and hate crimes of any sort are completely unacceptable in our society, which is why Britain has some of the strongest laws to protect people from violence and bigotry.
“I would also urge anyone that witnesses a hate crime to report it so we can tackle this behaviour head-on.”