Last week, the BBC reported that anti-Muslim hate crime in London increased 65% in the last year. Those of us at Tell MAMA were surprised by this figure as it is much higher than we expected. The numbers that the Metropolitan Police (MPS) have put out, however, tell a very different story than the BBC, point to a 5.9% decrease in anti-Muslim hate crimes in the capital.
We asked the journalists involved in the BBC report, which has circulated quite widely online, and found that the data was not the latest available. In our August briefing, we learned that overall, between the year from August 2012 to August 2013 and the year from August 2013 to August 2014, anti-Muslim hate crimes decreased 5.9% (from 512 in the first year to 482 in the last year).
While the BBC figure uses a different measure, relying on the financial year to date, claiming a 65% rise is quite a discrepancy. Despite the immense spike of anti-Muslim hate crime in the summer of 2013 in response to the brutal murder of Drummer Lee Rigby, the Metropolitan Police shows a very small drop in the incidence of anti-Muslim hate crime.
As the organisation responsible for monitoring anti-Muslim hate crime in the UK, we decided to dig a little deeper by looking at the changes in hate crime in specific boroughs rather than looking at London as a whole. There are sharp increases in some of these boroughs: North London boroughs Enfield, Haringey, Barnet, Camden, and Hackney have seen sharp increases of anti-Muslim hate crime year-over-year. These increases are dramatic despite modest decreases in some areas including Southeast London boroughs and Waltham Forest.
It is problematic to claim that ‘anti-Muslim hate crime’ has increased or decreased across London as the data demonstrates that these changes are anything but uniform across London’s geography. Rather, it is critical to look at the specificities of anti-Muslim hate crime in each borough. While the Metropolitan Police reports a 5.9% decrease in anti-Muslim hate crime, a look at a map of the differences between boroughs demonstrates the importance of drilling into the unique situation of each borough: we see localised hotspots that demand closer scrutiny and police efforts to counter anti-Muslim hate.