In the Media

Race crime backlash after 7/7 did not materialise, admits DPP

PUBLISHED December 5, 2006

The July 2005 bombings has not sparked a race crime backlash as predicted.

British Muslims did not suffer a backlash of abuse and attacks in the wake of the July 2005 London bombings, the Director of Public Prosecutions said.

Only 12 offenders motivated by religious hatred were prosecuted in the whole of England and Wales in the month after the suicide bombings that killed 52 people, he revealed.

Of these only six cases involved attackers who told police that they acted because of the bombs on underground trains and a bus.

The findings suggest that widespread fears about reprisals against Muslims in the aftermath of the terror attacks were misplaced.

However, overall race-related crimes rose by more than a quarter last year.

The CPS said there were 7,340 prosecutions of offenders accused of racially-aggravated crime in the 12 months, 28 per cent up on the previous year.

At the time of the July 7 bombings one senior Islamic cleric warned women to stop wearing headscarves because of the danger of attack and the Guardian newspaper reported that two in every three Muslims were considering leaving the country because of the intensity of abuse.

However DPP Kenneth Macdonald QC said yesterday: "After the 7 July bombings it was feared that there would be a significant backlash against the Muslim community and that we would see a large rise in religiously aggravated offences.

"The fears of a large rise in offences appear to be unfounded."

He added: "Although there were more cases in July 2005 that for any other month, this did not continue into August and overall in 2005/6 there was an increase of nine cases compared to the previous year."

Mr Macdonald said police and prosecutors had made strong efforts to ensure that all those guilty of hate crimes were being caught and punished.

"Racist and religiously aggravated crimes are particularly nasty because victims are targeted solely because of their identity or beliefs," he said.

"These crimes don't just affect individual victims and their families but whole communities.

"The Crown Prosecution Service is determined to take a robust view of these cases. Prosecutors will work closely with the police to make sure the strongest evidence is put before the courts to convict offenders," Mr Macdonald added.

The CPS said that one of the six cases of a religiously aggravated offence that followed the London bombings happened on 7 July 2005 in South Yorkshire, when a man shouted abuse at his Muslim neighbour and then threw a brick through his window. The offender was given a nine month prison sentence.

In all, there were just 43 prosecutions for religiously aggravated offences in the 12 months that ended in March, the figures published yesterday show. The number of offences, which since 2001 have brought tougher sentencing for those found guilty, was up from 34 the previous year.

In all, the 12-month period saw 18 prosecutions for attacks on Muslims motivated by religious hatred.

The figures suggest that fears about high numbers of 'Islamophobic' attacks and high levels of abuse may be misplaced.

Worries were at their height in the aftermath of the 7 July bombings but warnings about an anti-Muslim backlash have been revived regularly since whenever an incident related to Islamist terrorism happens.

The 28 per cent rise in racially aggravated offences was brought about by more reporting of race incidents and greater determination on the part of police and prosecutors, the CPS said.

"There is more community confidence so more people are prepared to come forward," a spokesman said. "There is also better monitoring of such incidents by ourselves and the police, and we are making sure prosecutions are recorded."

The British Crime Survey this year, the Government's large-scale survey that checks peoples' experiences of crime, found that numbers of race crimes had gone down slightly.