Recorded hate crimes are up 17% from last year, and have more than doubled in the last 4 years.
Racial hate crimes have increased 14% year on year, while those based on sexual orientation have risen a terrible 27%. Attacks on people based on religion, disability and transgender people have also risen year on year.
We must redouble our efforts to prevent hate crime, because its effects go well beyond physical harm to victims. It can inflict lasting psychological damage, divide communities and beget further violence.
The Liberal Democrats are therefore calling for the definition of ‘aggravated offences’ to be extended, so that it covers hate crimes motivated not only by racial or religious hatred, but also by hostility based on gender, sexual orientation and disability. That would send a clear message that no form of hate crime can be tolerated and ensure that all victims are properly protected.
This is not the Britain we believe in. Liberal Democrats will continue to fight against prejudice and discrimination, and ensure full equality and protection for people of all backgrounds and beliefs.
Preventing hate crime isn’t just a matter for lawmakers
But preventing hate crime isn’t just a matter for lawmakers and law enforcement. Politicians, commentators and others in public life must never engage in the stereotyping, scapegoating and demagoguing that inflames hatred. Instead, we must use our platforms to expose and confront such prejudice wherever we find it.
Earlier this year Jo Swinson called for a new approach to hate crime against women. It is unacceptable that women are targeted by vile and offensive language, and we must do so much more to rid the country of this behaviour. We need this change to happen now.
Each of us – whether we have a public platform or not – can do our part to build a society of tolerance and decency, where everyone is treated with dignity and respect and no one suffers persecution or discrimination.
We demand better for Britain. We demand a Britain where hate crime is a thing of the past.