Stats shows significant increase in anti-Muslim hate crime

Let's End Hate Cr!me

Let’s End Hate Cr!me is a campaign jointly run by Manchester, England) City Council, Greater Manchester Police, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) raising awareness about hate crime. Photo by Mikey. 

While the increase in Canadian hate crimes is modest, according to two-year-old statistics, there has been a marked increase in hate crimes directed at Muslims.

Const. Gareth Blount of the Hate Crimes Unit for the RCMP at Surrey headquarters, reports that in 2015, there was a 61 per cent increase in Muslim-related hate crimes. He provided more details about the statistics and the role the Hate Crimes Unit plays in an e-mail interview.


Q: How have the stats on hate crimes changed within the last two years?

Const. Blount: All Canadian hate crime stats are recorded by Stats Canada. Stats are generally from two years previous, so the most recent stats came out for 2015 and showed a minor (five per cent) increase in hate crimes. The significant section, though, was that hate crimes against Muslims were up 61 per cent. Anti-Semitism is still the highest recorded offences against a religion. The identifiable group that suffers the most hate crime is race or ethnic origin. Race and ethnic origin accounted for just under half (48 per cent]) of all hate crimes reported to the police in Canada. The stats referenced only refer to the hate crimes that were reported. Under-reporting is believed to be a significant problem and the true percentage will never be known.

Q: Has there been an increase or decrease in hate crimes against a specific ethnic group?

Const. Blount: See above, which highlights the significant increase being against Muslims.

Q: Are there any services specifically for victims of hate crimes in your jurisdiction? If yes, could you please provide a brief description.

Const. Gareth Blount: Aside from Police Victims Services, which is a generic police service offered for victims of crime, there is no specific victim service for anyone who suffers as a result of a hate crime. There is an volunteer group organized and funded by the province called the “Organization Against Racism and Hate” (OARH). This is not a victim service, but a group that works with communities to change attitudes and fund initiatives to create a more inclusive society.

Q: What are some basic steps you take to make sure the situation is handled properly?

Const. Blount: We review files dealt with by police officers from around the province, offering advice, guidance and, if required, on-the-ground assistance. The BCHCT is composed of two police officers, so we are limited in taking files, as this may prevent us doing our other mandates, such as intelligence gathering and community engagement. Other steps we take are to assist police officers liaising with Crown [counsel], as well as updating community groups such as OARH of potential issues within their area.

Q: Being that you are a constable in hate crimes, what interested you in this unit?

Const. Blount: Hate and racism as a whole is a very hard area to work in, because opinions and beliefs are often etched into us from a young age. It can also be an emotional subject, with fear being the overriding concern by most. We fear what we don’t understand. The challenge of making a difference is so much more because of this factor, but I relish that challenge and thinking outside the box can sometimes get results that are unexpected, but welcome. I am not a Canadian citizen, but I am immensely grateful to live here, and by trying to make change, I hope to continue to make Canada one of the best places in the world to live.

Q: Have you noticed any change in the behavior of victims and perpetrators since Donald Trump has become president? ( I know he is American president, I just want to see if that has any impact on Vancouver being how close Canada and America are.)

Const. Blount: I can never say definitively the cause that increases hate crimes. Increased awareness, increased reporting, new hate groups being established are some causes. I have seen hate crime files, such as graffiti that reference “Trump,” however without speaking to the suspect, it’s impossible to establish how and to what degree Donald Trump played an impact in the offence. Some identifiable groups have spoken to me about concerns they have, with statements made by President Trump and how this may affect them, their community and their safety. Sometimes the fear of crime occurring can more substantial than the statistics of crime occurring. Not only the incidents of crime, but also the fear of crime need to be addressed by the police to truly make a difference in society.

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