This is Anti Hate Crime Awareness Week. Hate crime has increased by more than 40% in the last 5 years and recent events have made it worse. Hate crime covers race, religion, disability, sexual orientation and transgender identity. Anyone convicted risks having their sentence increased. Last year 10,000 people were convicted and sentences were increased in four out of five cases.

The awful events unfolding in the Middle East are casting a dark shadow over politics and community cohesion. The terrorist attacks by Hamas on Israel have caused a crisis which threatens to spill out onto the streets including in this country. Islamophobia and anti semitism are on the rise and the police are on the frontline in dealing with the fallout. Everyone, including politicians need to be careful with the language they use, particularly after the Home Secretary’s remarks about gay refugees caused an increase in LGBT+ abuse.

I heard recently of a school where parents kept their children at home because they feared for their safety. Muslim parents kept their children off school because they feared they would be blamed.

I spoke last week to the police for reassurance that everything which can be done is being done to keep people safe whichever community they belong to. Charities like TellMAMA and the Community Safety Trust are doing a great job reassuring people and holding communities together. If you feel unsafe for yourself your family or neighbours do not hesitate to contact the police. It’s important that our wider community holds together and that terror and its supporters do not prevail.

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