Data suggests rise in local hate crime not attributable to attacks on East Asian people, reports Victoria Munro, Local Democracy Reporter
A surge in racist hate crimes in Waltham Forest last year was not caused by anti-East Asian Covid-19 conspiracies, new data indicates.
While a Metropolitan Police spokesperson suggested last month that “certain communities were targeted due to the pandemic” the number of crimes against East Asian people reported in the borough last year totalled eight.
The vast majority of more than 500 racist hate crimes in Waltham Forest 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 told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that many crimes are committed on the street “where identifying a suspect can be challenging”.
He said: “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 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 January 2020 to January 2021 only 75 reports resulted in any action against the perpetrator.
The borough saw a surge in racist hate crimes at the start of the pandemic last year, 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 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 significantly fewer racist incidents to the police, with less than ten 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” 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.”