Coronavirus sees hate crime triple in South Yorkshire

The average number of hate crimes in South Yorkshire committed against victims whose appearance was Chinese, Japanese or South East Asian has nearly tripled in the first three months of this year.

Thursday, 7th May 2020, 4:44 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th May 2020, 4:45 pm

A Freedom of Information request revealed South Yorkshire Police recorded 23 hates crimes against people in this group during the first three months of 2020, compared to 36 crimes for the whole of 2019 and 31 in 2018.

The 2020 total from January until March was nearly two thirds that of the entirety of last year, and nearly three-quarters of the 2018 total.

On average, 7.6 hate crimes against victims whose appearance was Chinese, Japanese or South East Asian were recorded each month in the first quarter of this year. That is more than double the previous year (3) and nearly triple the amount in 2018 (2.58).

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Hate crimes committed against victims whose appearance was Chinese, Japanese or South East Asian has nearly tripled in the first three months of this year. (Photo by Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images)

Chief superintendent Sarah Poolman from South Yorkshire Police admitted hate crimes are still under reported in some communities. The true number of hate crimes in the county could, therefore, be even higher.

Crimes in 2020 included four assaults, two harassment offences, three malicious communications offences and 14 offences of causing public fear, alarm or distress.

Sarah Ng, who runs Sheffield’s Chinese Community Centre, described the increase as “shocking”.

She said: “All the work that’s been done in the last 30 years to bring communities together has been wiped out.

Sarah Ng & Tak Liu.

“The virus has brought out the best in some people and the worst in others.”

Sarah added: “A lot of the people included in those figures are people that have been here there whole life.

“There’s a big community here who have been settled in the UK since the 1900s – we are all neighbours.”

Michael Chiu, a 22-year-old student at Sheffield Hallam University who was born in the UK, said he was racially abused about the coronavirus by people in a car who threw fruit at him.

He told Sky News: "I have grown up with racism my entire life but to have actual adult individuals using that kind of language, and using that kind of racism towards me [...] it was just extremely shocking.

"I was born in the UK and I have absolutely nothing to do with the coronavirus and more importantly the virus does not discriminate in any manner or form. It is just plain ignorance."

Sarah said: “There are no excuses for those incidents. The whole world is suffering, we are all suffering together so let’s support rather than attack.”

Chief Superintendent Sarah Poolman said: “Hate crime will not be tolerated across South Yorkshire and we are working hard to continue building confidence within our communities to report crimes of this nature.“In some communities we know that hate crimes are still under reported which is why, alongside key partner organisations, we are doing a lot of educational work to raise awareness of what a hate crime is and how to report it.“It takes a lot of courage to report a hate crime and I would like to reassure you that we listen to victims, take all allegations seriously and investigate all hate crimes thoroughly and I would strongly encourage people to report incidents to us.“We are also committed to improving our response and investigation. All hate crimes are reviewed in order to achieve positive outcomes for victims, and we also regularly seek feedback from victims and community groups through our surveys and local hate crime scrutiny panels to constantly assess and improve the way we do things. “We review each and every hate crime, anticipating and monitoring trends so that we are proactively protecting and engaging with those communities affected.“If you have been a victim of or a witness to a hate crime, please call 101, 999 in an emergency, Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111 or contact a third party reporting centre.“For details of third party reporting centres and to find out more information about hate crime prevention please visit our website – southyorks.police.uk/find-out/crime-prevention-advice/hate-crime.”