Anti-Semitic incidents ‘at record level in UK’

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A damaged gravestone in Rainsough Jewish Cemetery in PrestwichImage copyright PA
Image caption A damaged gravestone in Rainsough Jewish Cemetery in Prestwich, Greater Manchester

Reports of anti-Semitic incidents have hit record levels in the first six months of 2017, according to a Jewish charity.

The Community Security Trust (CST) said 767 reports were made to them between January and June – a rise of 30% on the same period last year.

A total of 80 incidents involved physical attacks – up from 45 in 2016.

CST chief executive David Delew said: “The hatred and anger that lies behind it is spreading.”

The CST has been recording anti-Semitic incidents for more than 30 years.

Members of the public reported 568 incidents of abusive behaviour to the CST, including people being shouted at in the street for wearing clothes related to their religion.

A further 51 incidents of damage and desecration of Jewish property were recorded – up from 32 in 2016 – and 56 direct anti-Semitic threats were recorded, 10 of which involved being threatened with knives, bats, sticks or vehicles.

There were also 12 cases of mass-mailed anti-Semitic leaflets or emails.

‘Situation deteriorated’

Mr Delew said whilst some of the numbers may have come from improved reporting, it was “sadly clear that the overall situation has deteriorated” with figures almost twice as bad as they were five years ago.

“Anti-Semitism is having an increasing impact on the lives of British Jews and the hatred and anger that lies behind it is spreading,” he added.

Of the incidents, 142 took place on social media and Jewish schools were a target in 22 of the incidents, up from 10.

Nineteen of them involved Jewish children or staff travelling to and from school. Of those, 13 were assaults.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption A Jewish cemetery falls victim to vandals in East Ham

National policing lead for anti-Semitism, Assistant Chief Constable Garry Shewan, called on members of the Jewish community to come forward if they are targeted.

“There is never any excuse for abuse, racism or hate crime,” he said.

“I want to encourage anyone who is targeted in this way to report to their local police – you will be listened to, taken seriously, and officers will do all they can to bring offenders to justice.”

A total of 570 – or 74% of all the incidents – were recorded in Greater London and Greater Manchester, which have the two largest Jewish communities in the UK.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd said the government’s Hate Crime Action Plan had helped to improve reporting, but added: “I am clear that one such incident is one too many, and we will continue to do everything we can to stamp out the hatred and division that blights our communities.”

She also said the government was providing £13.4m to protect Jewish sites and £900,000 for “innovative schemes to tackle various types of hate crime”.

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