Rise in recorded hate crime during pandemic

Walthamstow Town Centre Police Office
Walthamstow Police Office in Walthamstow High Street

Reports of racism have increased across the borough, reports Victoria Munro, Local Democracy Reporter

Waltham Forest saw a big increase in reports of racist hate crimes in the first few months of the pandemic – and they have yet to return to normal levels.

The number of racist hate crimes reported to police every month went from 19 in April last year to 55 in May, rising even higher to 65 in June. Neighbouring Hackney and Redbridge both saw sharp rises in the summer but returned to pre-pandemic levels in winter, whereas the trend in Waltham Forest seems to be continuing. 

In December, the last month for which statistics are available, 50 racist hate crimes were reported, well above the average of 36 a month recorded for the past four years.

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.

A Metropolitan Police spokesperson declined to provide details of which racial groups were most affected by the increase. They suggested that a combination of Covid-19 and “the global response to the death of George Floyd” had triggered the rise in reports of racist crimes. 

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.”

Last year Waltham Forest Council convened a citizen’s assembly to look at ways to tackle hate crime, which has led to the launch of a training programme for residents to become ‘bystanders’ who can intervene if they see a hate incident in the community.