The number online hate crimes in Greater Manchester has risen by a staggering 1,353% over the last four years, data obtained by MM has revealed.
Hate crime in general has risen by some 85% over the same period but the spike of reports online since 2014 might be due to the fact that is when Greater Manchester Police first introduced the cybercrime flag to its systems.
Sergeant Kate Crompton, of GMP, said that tackling hate crime is an ongoing priority for GMP and that they are continuing to work with communities to bring offenders to justice.
She said: “Following the terror-related attacks in London and Manchester last year, we saw an increase in hate crime reports in line with the national trend, however numbers have now returned to similar levels as before those events.
“We continually encourage victims of hate crime and those who may have witnessed a hate crime to report it to us.”
“Hate crime can have a profound effect on victims and we remain committed to tackling hate and discrimination and creating Greater Manchester communities that celebrate our differences.”
Last year racially aggravated offences recorded by police nationwide were the most common, making up 78% of last year’s hate crimes.
Home Office data released in October 2017 showed total hate crimes rose from 62,518 offences from 2015 to 2016, to 80,393 in the year since.
MM spoke to Rusholme Councillor Rabnawaz Akbar, who has himself been a victim of hate crime and believes that the rise of nationalist politics, the far right in America and Brexit are to blame for a rise in hate crime both offline and online.
He said: “They have added fuel to people saying things that qualify as hate crime.
“Some of the things said by Donald Trump, Nigel Farage, Marine Le Pen, if we went back 10 or 15 years we wouldn’t have found them acceptable, now they have been legitimised.”
Rabnawaz thinks that the number of hate crimes online have risen because people think it’s easier to hide behind a computer than say something to somebody in the street.
In August 2017 the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) announced plans to treat online hate crime just as seriously as face-to-face hate crime by increasing prosecutions of the offence, a move that the Rusholme councillor thinks is the key to tackling hate crime online.
Yet tackling hate crime both online and offline in Manchester is about so much more than just prosecuting people said Rabnawaz.
“It’s about zero tolerance, outreach to young people and making people aware of it.
“It’s everybody’s duty to speak up and making sure people aren’t abused, discriminated against and people are respected,” he added.
Manchester’s Hate Crime Strategy which was launched in 2016 looks at how hate crime in Greater Manchester will be tackled and how to make Manchester the ‘best it can be by 2025’.
The Labour councillor stressed the importance of this common strategy for Manchester and the importance of different communities coming together to tackle hate crime.
“You can’t tackle one type of hate in isolation. You can’t have the Muslim community saying we’re going to fight Islamophobia and Jews saying we’re going to find anti-Semitism.”
The Hate Crime Strategy also aims to make ‘residents from all backgrounds feel safe’.
“There are people from all over the world coming here, they must be able to feel welcome and go about their lives. They bring different traditions and cultures and that’s what makes Manchester what it is,” said Cllr Akbar.