Record Number of Anti-Semitic Incidents in U.K. in First Half of 2017

Anti-Semitic graffiti at a London school. (London Shomrim)

The first six months of 2017 saw a record number of anti-Semitic hate incidents in the U.K., according to figures released this week by the Community Security Trust (CST).

CST recorded 767 anti-Semitic incidents nationwide from January to June 2017, a 30 percent increase from the 589 incidents recorded during the first six months of 2016. This is the highest total CST has ever recorded for the January to June period. CST has recorded anti-Semitic incidents since 1984.

The record total in the first half of 2017 saw over 100 anti-Semitic incidents recorded for every month so far this year. This continues an unprecedented pattern of monthly totals higher than 100 incidents for every month since April 2016. Average monthly incident totals recorded by CST are now roughly double the level they were at five years ago.

This rise in recorded incident totals may partly reflect the growth in Jewish communal concern about anti-Semitism, which could lead to better reporting of incidents from victims and witnesses. It may also partly be a consequence of increased reporting from commercial security guards protecting Jewish communal locations. CST’s information-sharing agreements with police forces around the U.K. may also have contributed to higher totals in some limited cases. However, these factors do not, alone, explain the scale and breadth of the increase; rather, it is likely that the incident totals recorded by CST reflect a general, sustained rise in the baseline number of anti-Semitic incidents in an average month.

The most common single type of incident recorded by CST in the first half of 2017 involved verbal abuse randomly directed at visibly Jewish people in public. In 184 incidents (almost a quarter of the overall total), the victims were Jewish people, attacked or abused while going about.

CST recorded 80 violent anti-Semitic assaults in the first six months of 2017, a 78 percent increase from the 45 assaults recorded during the same period in 2016 and the highest number CST has ever recorded for the January to June period.

There were 51 incidents of damage and desecration of Jewish property in the first six months of 2017; 568 incidents of abusive behavior, including verbal abuse, anti-Semitic graffiti, anti-Semitic abuse via social media and one-off cases of hate mail; 56 direct anti-Semitic threats; and 12 cases of mass-mailed anti-Semitic leaflets or emails.

Almost three-quarters of the 767 anti-Semitic incidents were recorded in Greater London and Greater Manchester, the two largest Jewish communities in the UK. Beyond these two centers, CST recorded 197 anti-Semitic incidents in 66 locations around the U.K., including 22 in Hertfordshire, 22 in Gateshead, 10 in Brighton & Hove, nine in Leeds and seven in Birmingham.

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid MP said, “This rise in reported anti-Semitic incidents is completely unacceptable. Everyone in this country has a right to live without fear of abuse or attack and we must as a nation firmly condemn this hatred and all other forms of bigotry. Crimes must always be reported and it is encouraging that Jewish communities are more confident in coming forward. We will continue to work with the Community Security Trust to ensure that those who perpetuate hate against the Jewish community are subject to the full force of the law.”

All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism Chair John Mann MP said, “This report should be of serious concern to people up and down Britain. If we are to pride ourselves on being a diverse, equal and welcoming country, we have to reverse this worrying trend.”

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