'Shocking, disgraceful and unacceptable' - Priti Patel on hate crime rise in South Yorkshire
Home Secretary Priti Patel has described the increase in hate crime in South Yorkshire amid the coronavirus pandemic as “shocking, disgraceful and unacceptable”.
Speaking in the House of Commons on Monday, Ms Patel was asked what engagement she has had with communities “at risk” of hate crime by Labour MP for Sheffield Hallam, Olivia Blake.
It comes after it emerged the average number of hate crimes in South Yorkshire committed against victims whose appearance was Chinese, Japanese or South East Asian nearly tripled in the first three months of this year.
Ms Blake said Muslim communities in the county have also been “attacked and singled out over Ramadam and Eid.”
In response, Ms Patel said: “The figures that she has quoted are simply shocking, disgraceful and unacceptable, and it speaks to individuals – a small minority – in their lack of tolerance and lack of respect for the communities that she refers to.
“She’s specifically asked me the engagement that I have had but of course across government we are engaging, in the Home Office as well, with different groups, different leaders of organisations at a ministerial level, but also at an individual level.”
The 23 hate crimes recorded in South Yorkshire this year against the above-mentioned communities, excluding Muslims, included four assaults, two harassment offences, three malicious communications offences and 14 offences of causing public fear, alarm or distress.
Ms Patel added: “We absolutely condemn the appalling racial discrimination, hateful way in which misinformation has been spread, but also the way this has been targeted against specific communities.”
Last week racist graffiti was scrawled on a house in Sheffield, leaving the single mother who lives there ‘exhausted, horrified and fearful for the lives of her mixed-race children’.
Ms Blake added: “Rather than scapegoating, we need to bring communities together to face the challenges the public health crisis has created, and to fix the weaknesses in our economy, society and social security net it has further exposed.”
Anti-racism protests, including a peaceful demonstration in Sheffield, have taken place internationally in the wake of George Floyd’s killing in US police custody, and against the issue more widely.