Antisemitism in the UK Contents

4The response of Government and justice system

Hate Crime Action Plan

60.The Government’s latest Hate Crime Action Plan was published in July 2016, and acknowledges that “antisemitism has not always been taken as seriously as other hate crimes in some parts of our society”.93 The Action Plan focuses on five key areas of activity:

61.Writing for Jewish News during the week in which the Action Plan was published, the Home Secretary, Rt Hon Amber Rudd MP, said that the threat to the Jewish community in the UK “is something I cannot, and will not, ignore”.95 Her pledge to stamp out antisemitism was reiterated in August 2016 by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Sajid Javid MP, after the latest CST figures were published.96

Criminal justice response

62.There is no specific law on antisemitism in England and Wales, but antisemitic behaviour can be prosecuted under a variety of provisions related to offences with a racial or religious element. The CPS in England and Wales defines a religious incident as “Any incident which is believed to be motivated because of a person’s religion or perceived religion, by the victim or any other person”.97 Certain offences require the law to prove a racial or religious element, including:

63.The national collection of antisemitic hate crime data by the police began in 2008, in response to the first (2006) All Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Antisemitism. The latest recorded antisemitic hate crime figures are provided in Chapters 1 and 3 of this report, and are largely reliant on individuals coming forward to CST or the police. The Crime Survey of England and Wales (CSEW) does not report the prevalence of antisemitic hate crime, which falls into the two categories of racially-aggravated and religiously-aggravated crime. The CPS has not yet published disaggregated figures on religiously-aggravated hate crime offences, but has informed the All Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism that it has improved its data gathering and plans to conduct ‘tracking exercises’ with police forces, to improve its understanding of the way in which it handles antisemitic crime.98

64.In October, the CPS published new guidelines on prosecuting cases involving communications sent via social media, including hate crime cases. The guidelines clarify that a prosecution is more likely to be required if a social media offence is motivated by hostility based on an individual’s race or religion (or any other protected characteristic), and recommend seeking information from a relevant community group to support the prosecutor’s assessment of the degree to which the language used may cause offence to the intended target. The CPS also recommends that prosecutors consider the appropriateness of ancillary orders “to prevent or restrict certain behaviours”, which might include restricting offenders from using social networking sites.99 At the same time, the CPS published a consultation on its new public policy statements on hate crime, including on racially and religiously aggravated hate crime.100

65.In 2014, the College of Policing published Hate Crime Operational Guidance, including information on how to deal with antisemitic hate crime. CST has described this guidance as “truly excellent”.101 It includes a substantial section on offences and investigation of internet hate crime, including jurisdictional issues, crime recording and operational flow. However, in his evidence to us, John Mann MP highlighted a weakness in the current arrangements: namely, the lack of a single point of contact within the police for internet hate crime victims. 102 If the web host provides an IP address for the poster of the offensive material, officers are advised to forward the information to the offender’s local force, which raises issues regarding the victim’s ongoing point of contact with the police.103

66.Police forces work closely with CST to protect Jewish communities, including operating joint patrols in predominantly-Jewish areas, sharing data and delivering training and exercises.104 At the request of serving police officers, CST has produced “A Police Officer’s Guide to Judaism”, which explains traditions and customs, dietary laws, death and burial matters, and practical issues such as observance of the Sabbath.105

67.The majority of the evidence we have received suggests that the police and criminal justice system’s response to antisemitism in the UK has been, for the most part, excellent. We nevertheless welcome the decision by the Crown Prosecution Service to issue detailed guidance on prosecuting cases involving communications sent via social media, as well as its recently-launched consultation on racially and religiously aggravated hate crime. We hope that Jewish community groups will engage fully in this process, to ensure that the final CPS guidance take appropriate account of the specific impact of antisemitism. We also reiterate our concerns about the potential under-reporting of antisemitic crime in some parts of England, as outlined in Chapter 3.

68.To address the particular problem of hate crime committed online, we recommend that individuals reporting antisemitism and other hate crime should have a single point of contact within their local police force for the duration of the investigation and any subsequent prosecution, ideally in the form of a dedicated hate crime officer. This will ensure that an ongoing flow of communication is sustained when the case is referred to another force. Where police forces are too small to have a dedicated member of staff, they should nevertheless have an officer with specific responsibility for hate crime cases. The victim should be able to contact this individual directly for information about the status of their case. We have announced a separate inquiry into hate crime, which will examine this and other related issues in greater detail.

69.It is concerning that the Crime Survey of England and Wales (CSEW) is not able to provide reliable baseline figures on the prevalence of self-reported experiences of antisemitic crime. The majority of British Jewish people live in Greater London, so a national sample would have to be prohibitively large in order to obtain reliable data on antisemitism. CST figures, while valuable, may reflect trends in reporting as well as overall prevalence. The Home Office and the Office for National Statistics should commission enhanced samples in Greater London and other areas with large Jewish populations, to ensure that the CSEW can collect reliable data on the prevalence of antisemitism.

Cross-Government Working Group on Antisemitism

70.Much of the Government’s specific work on antisemitism has been supported by the Cross-Government Working Group on Antisemitism, led by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG). The Working Group brings together civil servants from across Whitehall, including DCLG, the Home Office and the Ministry of Justice, and representatives from major Jewish community organisations. Its activities have been largely determined by the two seminal reports emerging from the 2006 and 2015 All Party Parliamentary Inquiries into Antisemitism, which made a number of recommendations for the Government and civil society.

71.The Working Group has overseen progress against the recommendations of these two reports, as well as supporting a number of other initiatives aimed at tackling antisemitic hate crime. Notable steps taken by the Government since 2006 include:

72.Witnesses from Jewish communities spoke positively of the Government and criminal justice system’s response to antisemitism. The Chief Rabbi told us he was “proud of our situation here in the UK”, and that “our legislation serves a good purpose”.107 John Mann MP said that over several changes of administration, the framework with which the Government has dealt with antisemitism “has been robust and hasn’t been watered down”, adding that some of the work has been “superb”, and that the APPG Against Antisemitism (which he chairs) has had “positive interaction without exception, with every party, including over the last year, which is a positive sign.” 108 In press reports following his resignation, the former Prime Minister, Rt Hon David Cameron MP, was particularly commended for his support for Holocaust education, including establishing the Holocaust Commission and announcing a future Holocaust memorial next to the Palace of Westminster. 109

73.The report of the 2015 All Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Antisemitism praised the “significant degree of work” being undertaken to address antisemitism by the UK and devolved governments, Parliament, legal authorities and civil society, but expressed disappointment at the lack of understanding of this work among Jewish communities.110 The APPG Against Antisemitism aims to see full implementation of its 2015 recommendations by the end of 2020. Key recommendations (and progress against them) are outlined in the table below.

Table 2: Progress against key recommendations contained within the 2015 All Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Antisemitism



For a national review of inter-communal and interfaith work to be undertaken, to identify and share best practice.

DCLG has subsequently funded a toolkit by Near Neighbours and the Interfaith Network, entitled “Faiths Working Together”.*

For the Government to work with the CPS and others to devise a communications strategy to convey the work that has been done to combat antisemitism.

The CPS has committed to ensuring that its efforts are publicised more widely, and is working on guides to recognising and reporting hate crime. Work on police messaging to reassure Jewish communities has reportedly been assisted by the appointment of Assistant Chief Constable Gary Shewan as the National Policing Lead for Jewish community engagement.

For further research to be carried out on the sources, patterns, nature and reach of antisemitism on social media.

DCLG is reportedly working with the Home Office and Ministry of Justice on this recommendation.

For the CPS to instigate a better system for searching and analysing the data that it holds on antisemitic hate crime.

Pilots for tracking antisemitic cases have been introduced in Yorkshire, Greater Manchester and London.

For the CPS to review its guidance on grossly offensive speech and on communications sent via social media.

New CPS guidance on communications sent via social media published in October 2016.

For the CPS to undertake a review to examine the applicability of prevention orders (for example, banning a convicted offender from social media for two years) to hate crime offences.

New CPS guidance on communications sent via social media published in October 2016.

* Near Neighbours and the Interfaith Network, Faiths Working Together: Toolkit

Source: DCLG111

74.The evidence we have received on the current and previous Governments’ responses to antisemitism has been positive, particularly on their engagement with Jewish community organisations, interfaith work, and ongoing funding of security provision for Jewish schools and synagogues. The former Prime Minister David Cameron was particularly commended for his support for Holocaust education and commemoration. The Cross-Government Working Group on Antisemitism appears to be an effective forum for relationship-building, sharing of information and collaborative work aimed at addressing antisemitism in all communities, and is held up as an international model of best practice.

Government support for security of Jewish communities

75.CST told us that they are “extremely grateful” for the financial support that the Government has provided towards security for Jewish communities, including guards at Jewish schools, synagogues and other community sites, and said that their “primary request” was for it to continue into the next financial year.112 This funding amounted to £13.4 million for 2016–17, of which £250,000 went to CST to enable it to administer the remaining funds.113 CST told us that its annual budget is now £7 million, the vast majority of which it must raise itself.114

76.We express our gratitude to Community Security Trust for the impressive and professional work that they do to keep British people safe. It is appalling that such stringent measures are necessary to ensure the safety of British Jewish people, and it is right that funding for that security should come predominantly from the Government: the safety of any British community should never be reliant on the generosity of individuals within that community. We recommend that this funding stream continues on an annual basis, rather than being dependent on a Government Minister making an announcement at CST’s annual dinner. The Government should also be responsive to any requests for increased resources arising from any ongoing increase in antisemitism.

93 Home Office, Action Against Hate: The UK Government’s plan for tackling hate crime, July 2016

94 Home Office, Action Against Hate: The UK Government’s plan for tackling hate crime, July 2016

96 Jewish Chronicle (Sajid Javid), Government is serious about stamping out hate crime, 4 August 2016

97 CPS website, Racist and Religious Crime—CPS Guidance, accessed 16 August 2016

99 CPS, Guidelines on prosecuting cases involving communications sent via social media, accessed 10 October 2016

100 CPS, Consultation on the CPS Public Policy Statement on Racially and Religiously Aggravated Hate Crime, 10 October 2016

102 Oral evidence taken on 14 July 2016, Q491

103 College of Policing, Hate Crime Operational Guidance, 2014, page 121

104 CST website, Police partnership, accessed 10 August 2016.

107 Oral evidence taken on 14 July 2016, Q431

108 Q492

111 Department for Communities and Local Government, Government Action on Antisemitism (2016), report in preparation

112 Oral evidence taken on 14 July 2016, Q463

113 Q454

114 Qs 460 and 461

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14 October 2016