Waltham Forest hate crime statistics cause for concern

The surge in racist hate crimes in Waltham Forest last year was not caused by anti-east Asian COVID conspiracies, new data indicates.

While a Met Police spokesperson suggested last month that “certain communities were targeted due to the pandemic”, only eight crimes against east Asian people were reported last year.

The vast majority of the more than 500 hate crimes in the borough were against black, white and south Asian people, with more than 100 incidents affecting each group.

The data, obtained by Freedom of Information request, also shows that less than a fifth of these reports resulted in any action against the criminal, such as a charge or caution.

Detective Superintendent Paul Whiteman said that many crimes are committed on the street “where identifying a suspect can be challenging”.

He added: “In some of the cases we were not able to identify the suspect, some relate to offences where the victim did not want to pursue and in some where we did identify a suspect but the evidential burden was not met.

“We take all forms of hate crime seriously, providing support to victims from local officers and monitoring trends to appropriately deploy officers.”

Out of 526 racist hate crimes reported from last January to January this year, only 75 reports resulted in any action against the perpetrator.

The borough saw a huge surge in racist hate crimes at the start of the pandemic, with reports jumping from 19 in April to 65 in June, an average of more than two crimes a day.

Data on the Mayor of London’s website shows people were most likely to be victimised in the south of the borough, particularly Grove Green ward, where 57 crimes were reported.

Victims were most likely to be black, with 153 reports of anti-black crimes, while there were around 120 crimes reported against white and south Asian residents.

Middle Eastern and east Asian people reported very little racist persecution to the police, with less than 10 crimes reported against each group over the entire year.

The data also shows that men and women were equally likely to be victims of and to report a hate crime.

Speaking at the time, a Metropolitan Police spokesperson suggested COVID-19 and “the global response to the death of George Floyd” in the US had triggered the rise.

They said: “In London, there was a rise in reports of racially-aggravated hate crime incidents, both on and offline, where certain communities were targeted due to the pandemic.

“This understandably causes great concern in our communities, but we are continuing to dedicate significant resources to investigating cases brought to our attention and encouraging those who may have been a victim to come forward.

“The Met does not tolerate any form of discrimination, and is committed to working with partners, such as MOPAC, TruVision, Tell Mama, Galop and Inclusion London, to robustly tackle hate crime by holding offenders to account, bringing prosecutions where appropriate, and in particular, supporting victims.”

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Victoria Munro

Local Democracy Reporter