In the Media

More antisemitic crimes recorded in Manchester than London last year

PUBLISHED February 2, 2012

Northern city reports 20% more incidents than the capital, despite having a Jewish population a fraction of the size

More antisemitic incidents were recorded in Manchester than in London last year, despite the capital having a Jewish community almost seven times larger, according to figures released on Thursday.

There were 586 antisemitic crimes ? including street attacks, threats, vandalism and desecration of Jewish property ? across the whole of Britain last year.

This was the fourth highest figure since records began 28 years ago, according to the Community Security Trust, which records antisemitic incidents.

Manchester was the scene of 244 crimes, while in London there were 201. This was despite London having a Jewish population of 149,800 while the figure for Manchester is 21,700. One incident recorded by the CST involved "extreme violence" as a Jewish family were filling up their car with petrol in Manchester.

"As one of the family members crossed the forecourt in order to make payment, a car containing two white women reversed sharply into her, knocking her to the ground," the report said.

"The occupants then got out of their car, shouted 'dirty Jew' and spat at the injured woman lying on the ground, before getting back into the car and driving away."In other incidents in Manchester and Salford, three children were verbally abused and had a lit firework thrown at them; eggs were thrown at men outside a synagogue after Saturday prayers; and a man in Salford had his skullcap torn off his head and was punched in the face.

The report said the rise "continues the pattern" of more incidents occurring in "Greater Manchester than should be the case, given the relative sizes of the Jewish communities in Manchester and in London". But it said this was mainly the result of improved reporting of incidents by Manchester's Jewish community to CST and to Greater Manchester Police (GMP).

Overall, the number of incidents nationally fell by more than a third from 2009, when the ground invasion of Gaza by Israeli forces was accompanied by a record 929 incidents.

Incidents in the UK in 2011 included 92 assaults, 63 incidents of vandalism, 394 incidents of abuse and 29 direct threats.

Mark Gardner of CST said: "Antisemitism is not the most important feature in British Jewish life, but it remains a serious problem in some parts of society and retains the potential to worsen significantly in reaction to external events."

Last year, a taxi driver called Taha Osman was spared jail after hurling racist abuse outside King David School in Manchester. The 36-year-old screamed "all Jewish children must die" in front of horrified onlookers. He was given a 12-month community order.

The northern city has large Jewish communities in Broughton Park, North Manchester, Bury and Trafford.

Crimes in Greater Manchester included 46 assaults, 21 incidents of damage or desecration, 15 threats and 162 incidents of abusive behaviour.

Chief Superintendent Jon Rush, divisional commander for Bury, said: "What we must acknowledge is that the number of antisemitic attacks is far too high." "People in our Jewish community should be able to safely and freely go about their business without fear of being attacked.

"Any incident motivated by religious or racial hatred is abhorrent and can cause people a great deal of upset.

"We do not want people to suffer in silence and think they should not speak out when they are subject to any form of abuse ? we want them to tell us so that we can bring the offenders to justice."

He said the figures were partly explained by increased levels of reporting in Greater Manchester.

"We have run a number of successful initiatives in our communities that are designed to encourage anyone who is a victim of an antisemitic incident to report it to either ourselves or the CST, with whom we are working with very hard to tackle this sort of crime," he added.

Rush said for several years, Greater Manchester police and the CST had worked together over the Jewish high holy days to deter antisemitism and criminal activity by providing accessible policing and reassurance. He said his force had received positive feedback from the Jewish community.The operations included police patrols in Bury and Salford before and after services at synagogues. Mobile police stations were also situated nearby so people could report incidents.

? This article was amended on 2 February 2012. The original said Manchester was the scene of 242 crimes, when in fact there were 244 antisemitic crimes recorded by the Community Security Trust in Manchester. This has been corrected. © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds