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    'Heading for Totalitarian State': UK Anti-Hate Crime Plan Stirs Adverse Reaction

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    Upon the release of latest hate crime statistics in England and Wales, both the ruling Conservative party in Britain and its opposition - although differently - reacted to the reported surge in criminal activity.

    While the Tories rushed to update their Hate Crime Action Plan — championed by the Home Secretary Sajid Javid and a number of MPs — with promises of administrative and educational measures, the Labour Party pointed to the slashed police budget under Tory austerity policies in the last decade.

    The government also vowed to consider whether there should be additional protected characteristics, such as sex, age and alternative lifestyles such as the goth subculture — which caused ambivalent response online.

    Currently, the common definition of a hate crime, agreed in 2007, still stands.

    Hate crime is defined as "any criminal offence which is perceived, by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by hostility or prejudice towards someone based on a personal characteristic."

    The Home Office identifies "five centrally monitored strands of hate crime": race or ethnicity, religion or beliefs, sexual orientation, disability and transgender identity.

    The UK Independence Party has pledged to "scrap the Crown Prosecution Service's guidelines on hate crime," branding them as "purely subjective." UKIP posted the announcement on its Twitter page on Tuesday, arguing all "victims of crime should all be treated equally, irrespective of the motives of the criminal."

    Hate Crime in Numbers

    A statistical bulletin released by the UK Home Office on Tuesday, revealed a surge in hate crime offenses in England and Wales.

    The latest figures indicated an upward trend in various types of hate crime.

    In 2017/18, there were 94,098 hate crime offences recorded by the police in England and Wales, an increase of 17% compared with the previous year

    The increase is explained by the Home Office via the prism of improved police recording of crime, nation-wide political events and threat to national security.

    The June 2016 referendum on Britain's membership of the European Union was used as an example. Following the vote to leave the EU, Britain saw some of its residents get more vocal about their attitudes towards immigrants and immigration into the UK.

    READ MORE: Explicit Graffiti Targeting Immigrants Spreads Across London Post-Brexit

    The Home Office data showed "a rise in racially or religiously aggravated offences during the EU Referendum campaign, from April 2016, to a peak in offences after the result, in July 2016."

    An arrangement of newspapers pictured in London on June 24, 2016, as an illustration, shows the front page of the London Evening Standard newpaper reporting the resignation of British Prime Minister David Cameron following the result of the UK's vote to leave the EU in the June 23 referendum.
    © AFP 2018 / Daniel SORABJI
    An arrangement of newspapers pictured in London on June 24, 2016, as an illustration, shows the front page of the London Evening Standard newpaper reporting the resignation of British Prime Minister David Cameron following the result of the UK's vote to leave the EU in the June 23 referendum.

    Another trigger of hate crime activity in Britain was the terrorist attacks in 2017.

    Last year, Britain suffered a number of terror attacks, including the Westminster attack in March, Manchester arena bombing in May, London Bridge and Borough Market attack in June and Parson Green explosion in September.

    • Police officers work in Westminster the morning after an attack in London, Britain, March 23, 2017.
      Police officers work in Westminster the morning after an attack in London, Britain, March 23, 2017.
      © REUTERS / Hannah McKay
    • Armed police officers walk outside Borough Market after a terror attack in London, Britain.
      Armed police officers walk outside Borough Market after a terror attack in London, Britain.
      © REUTERS / Peter Nicholls
    • Concert goers gather outside after fleeing the Manchester Arena in northern England where US singer Ariana Grande had been performing.
      Concert goers gather outside after fleeing the Manchester Arena in northern England where US singer Ariana Grande had been performing.
    • Personal belonglongs and a bucket with an item on fire inside it, are seen on the floor of an underground train carriage at Parsons Green station in West London, Britain September 15, 2017, in this image taken from social media
      Personal belonglongs and a bucket with an item on fire inside it, are seen on the floor of an underground train carriage at Parsons Green station in West London, Britain September 15, 2017, in this image taken from social media
      © REUTERS / SYLVAIN PENNEC
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    © REUTERS / Hannah McKay
    Police officers work in Westminster the morning after an attack in London, Britain, March 23, 2017.

    The Home Office data recorded an apparent increase in racially or religiously aggravated offences in March 2017 following the Westminster Bridge attack and a sharp increase in hate crime in June 2017 following terrorist attacks in May and June. 

    READ MORE: UK Terror Arrests Up by 17%, Highest Number of Terrorist Prisoners Since 2009

     

     

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