Charities urge Tower Hamlets community to unite in face of hate crimes

National Hate Crime Awareness Week Logo

A leading anti-hate crime charity has praised Tower Hamlets Council for its work in tackling the problems in the borough, but warned it was vital for communities to come together in the face of rising incidents.

Rose Simkins, Chief Executive of Stop Hate UK, said of the councils plans for Hate Crime Awareness Week: “Only by truly working together will we be able to prove that there really is no place for hate. In a time where Hate Crime incidents are increasing, it’s vital that all parts of the community come together, to embrace cohesions.

“We applaud the efforts of the local community and Tower Hamlets Council, in showcasing how they are tackling Hate Crime and supporting those who are directly or indirectly affected.”

Tower Hamlets has seen a significant rise in hate crimes, from 572 cases in 2016, to 756 cases in 2017. This means there had been a 25 per cent increase in hate crimes one year, compared to an increase of 8 per cent across the whole of England in the same year.

The following graph describes the growth in the number of hate crimes being recorded by police:

Chart to show rise in hate crime

Campaign groups say this rise is down to better reporting, but also highlighted how social media platforms enables the rapid spread of hate speech.

Iman Atta OBE, Director of Tell MAMA, an anti-Muslim hate crime monitoring service, told EastLondonLines: “The reason that hate crime is rising is because of awareness for people to report in, a situation where hatred has spread over social media and where the political leadership of this country is fractured and where comments have impacts. We need leadership that is not inflammatory, a greater push for social media companies to do more to change to the situation and for society to really have a zero tolerance approach to matters.”

John Biggs, the Mayor of Tower Hamlets, told Eastlondonlines: “The rise in hate crime may be because victims are more confident in reporting incidents due to a wider awareness of the issues due to local and national campaigns.”

This map displays the prevalence of Islamophobic hate crime across London, and highlights Tower Hamlets as having one of the highest numbers of incidents recorded in 2018:

Map displaying Islamophobic hate crimes across London

The council is calling for residents and organisations to make pledges to end prejudice or hostility based on personal characteristics. They have organised a series of events to take place next week in honour of National Hate Crime Awareness Week.

Doctor surgeries, charities, housing associations, schools and churches across the borough, as well as small businesses and community services, have pledged to the Tower Hamlets ‘No Space for Hate’ (NPFH) campaign, which encourages communities to challenge hate. 

Biggs added: “Local and national government and agencies need to work closely together. We need greater education programmes in schools, awareness campaigns like No Place for Hate and enforcement of offences to reflect the impact it can have.”

The week will begin with a remembrance service on Sunday, October 13, at St Pauls Cathedral. The service will remember the victims of hate crime and aims to bring together different communities that have been affected by hate crime. 

On Monday 14, the main event will be a Peace Walk that will take place at 2:15 pm at Altab Ali Park. This is an open event that stands as a commitment to living together and rejecting discrimination. 

The park was named after Bangladeshi born 25-year-old, Altab Ali, a victim of hate crime, who was murdered in a racist attack by three teenagers in 1978. The murder quickly sparked protests and formed the basis of the ‘black and white, unite and fight’ movement.

Following the Peace Walk, there will be a ceremony where the councils hate crime champion recruits will be awarded their training certificated by the Mayor John Biggs. The organisation with the highest number of pledges will be awarded a trophy and a certificate by the Mayor of Tower Hamlets at the ceremony after the Peace Walk.

Tower Hamlets will also be holding a number of public outreach awareness sessions on Thursday 17. The sessions will offer residents the chance to learn about the different types of hate crimes and how they impact victims and what support is on offer to those being targeted. The sessions are being held at the Idea Store in Watney Market at 9:30am – 12:30pm, and at the Idea Store in Whitechapel at 2:30pm – 4:30pm. 

Throughout the week, the council will be working in partnership with various organisations and charities, such as ELOP (an LGBT charity), Real (a disabled rights charity), Queen Mary University London, Gateway Housing and Poplar HARCA housing, Tower Hamlets GP Care Group and Barts Health NHS Trust. There will be specialist staff training on recognising and the process of reporting different forms of hate crime.

Amy Clarke, digital assistant at learning disability charity Mencap, who has a learning difficulty, told EastLondonLines: “People with a learning disability, like me, experience disability hate crime regularly and it makes some people afraid to leave their homes for fear of being bullied or targeted.

“It’s shocking that the number of disability hate crimes recorded by police has gone up by 41% in the last year. There should be firmer rules in place by the police and the courts to make sure that when people have the confidence to report disability hate crimes to the police, it is taken seriously and the people who do these crimes are punished. People with a learning disability, like me, have a right to live free from fear and abuse.”

The following chart depicts the individual prevalence of the five main categories of hate crime; race or ethnicity, religion or beliefs, sexual orientation, disability, and transgender identity.

Chart to show proportions of different types of hate crime

The main religion in Tower Hamlets is Muslim, with four in 10, almost half of its residents, saying they follow Islam, compared to 21% stating they have no religion. According to the Home Offices statistics for Hate crime in England and Wales, 2017/18, over half of all religious hate crimes committed in the last year targeted Muslims.

Chart to show the number of hate crimes per religion.

Councillor Asma Begum, Deputy Mayor for Community Safety and Equalities, said: “This week gives us a chance to reflect on the combined work of the council and our partners. It sends a clear message that we have more in common with each other than things that divide us. This week our series of events reaffirm our continued commitment to the No Place for Hate campaign.”

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