Race hate crime soared by nearly a third last year, according to figures released today.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) prosecuted 4,660 defendants for racially-aggravated offences in England and Wales in 2004/05, up 29.7 per cent from the previous year.
The number of religiously-aggravated cases dropped to 34 from 49 the year before, but in 67 per cent of these cases the victim was Muslim.
Most of the reported racist incidents were assaults, criminal damage or public order offences, but there were also four murders.
Despite measures to boost victims’ confidence in the justice system there was a five per cent increase in the proportion of race charges which had to be dropped because witnesses refused to give evidence or failed to attend court.
The conviction rate for all race offences charged also dipped 2 per cent to 84 per cent.
Ken Macdonald QC, Director of Public Prosecutions, said the CPS had worked hard to give victims confidence that their cases would be treated properly to encourage them to come forward.
“Compared to the last set of figures, 8% fewer racially-aggravated charges were dropped because of insufficient evidence,” he said.
“Racist and religious crime does not simply injure the victim or their property, it affects the whole family and erodes the standards of decency of the wider community.
“We are determined to prosecute robustly wherever and whenever we can.”
Among the religiously-aggravated offences, the “actual or perceived” religion of the victim was Muslim in 23 out of 34 cases, Jewish in five, Christian in four, Hindu in two and Mormon in one. In four cases the religion was unknown.
In two cases the defendant was Muslim.