29 per cent of hate crime investigations in West Yorkshire closed with no suspect identified, including two religious attacks in Leeds

West Yorkshire Police had the eight highest percentage of hate crime investigations which closed without identifying a suspect of all police forces in 2018, a new report has found.

By Corinne Macdonald
Wednesday, 20th March 2019, 9:43 am
Updated Wednesday, 20th March 2019, 9:48 am
The Etz Chaim synagogue, left, and Beeston Central Mosque, right.
The Etz Chaim synagogue, left, and Beeston Central Mosque, right.

Analysis from the Press Association shows in the 12 months to September 2018, 29 per cent of racially and religiously-aggravated offences recorded by West Yorkshire Police were shut with no suspect in the frame.

This places the force eighth highest in the country, with Greater Manchester Police topping the list, closing 46 per cent of investigations into such offences without identifying a suspect.

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The Mosque was set on fire on the same evening as a Sikh temple in Beeston.

The offences analysed - all of which are defined as hate crimes - include racially or religiously aggravated assault, harassment, criminal damage and public fear, alarm or distress.

In Leeds, investigations into two incidents at religious buildings in the city did not result in anyone being arrested or charged.

On June 5, 2018, both a mosque and a Sikh temple in Beeston were set on fire in a suspected hate crime.

A flammable liquid was used to ignite the front doors of both the Jamia Masjid Abu Huraira - also known as Beeston Central Mosque - on Hardy Street and the Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha, a Sikh gurdwara on Lady Pit Lane.

Fortunately, fire crews were able to contain the blaze before it spread.At the time, Detective Inspector Richard Holmes, of Leeds District CID, said: “While our investigation is still at a relatively early stage, we do believe these premises have been specifically targeted as places of worship and we are treating both incidents as arson and hate crimes."

The year before on October 11, 2017, police launched an investigation after antisemitic graffiti featuring a swastika symbol was painted on a sign outside the Etz Chaim synagogue in Alwoodley.

The force recorded also this incident as a hate crime, however perpetrators have not been identified for either attack,

A spokesman for West Yorkshire Police said: "Unfortunately, despite extensive enquiries, we weren’t able to identify the suspects – there were potential suspects arrested on both the synagogue and the arsons but they were later ruled out."

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Chief Inspector Richard Close explained: “Similarly to other crimes, we are not able to identify a suspect in respect of every racially or religiously-aggravated offence reported to us.

"That does not mean that these crimes are not investigated thoroughly, but at times, as with any other type of offence reported, there is simply not enough evidence available to identify a suspect."

“We also find, particularly with hate crime reports, that the victim does not always support any further action being taken and some just wish for the incident to be recorded."

Despite this, Chief Inpector Close stressed the importance of reporting such crimes.

He continued: "What is imperative though is that people continue to report offences to us so that we can see any emerging patterns or issues, assisting us in our understanding of policing our communities.

"It also means that we can assure that the victim is appropriately safeguarded.

“West Yorkshire Police was praised last year by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services for our approach in dealing with hate crime offences.

"We have undertaken considerable work with partner agencies to encourage reporting and ensure that hate crimes and incidents are investigated appropriately.

“Each of our policing districts has a dedicated hate crime co-ordinator and we also have hate crime scrutiny panels in place involving independent members of the public and partners allowing for continual development and improvement.”

The analysis, compiled by the Press Association based on data published by the Home Office, found the national average for these offences being closed without identifying a suspect was 28 per cent.

West Yorkshire Police had the highest percentage in Yorkshire and the Humber, shortly followed by Humberside Police at 28 per cent and South Yorkshire Police at 27 per cent.

North Yorkshire Police, however, had the lowest percentage in the country with just four per cent of hate crime investigations being closed without a suspect being found.

The total number of racially and religiously-aggravated offences recorded by police has reached a new high, with 57,652 recorded during this period across England and Wales - the largest number for any 12-month period since these categories of offence were established in April 2012.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission described the figures as "disappointing", adding that victims of these offences often don't report what has happened to them "as they feel that the police won't take the incident seriously or have the power to act".

Independent charity Victim Support warned the figures could undermine public confidence in the ability of the justice system to report hate crime.

The National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC) told the Press Association that while any rise in hate crime was concerning, the latest figures also reflected success in improving the reporting of such offences.

NPCC Lead for Hate Crime, Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton, said: "For many years, we have been working to encourage those who have been victims of hate crime to come forward and tell police about their experiences.

"While we are concerned by the overall rise in hate crimes, of any nature, we view these figures as a successful reflection of our efforts in an area of under-reported crime.

"Police will investigate crime reports and will pursue action against those responsible where there is evidence to do so. Unfortunately, with many cases, there are often no witnesses to these crimes and scarce evidence - this may lead to police being unable to identify a suspect.

"The police service has no tolerance for this type of abuse but we need to be made aware that crimes are taking place so that we can investigate or better still, prevent them from happening."

Anyone with information about a hate crime or incident is asked to report it to the police, at an independent Hate Incident Reporting Centre or via the Stop Hate UK App.

Reports to the police can be made by calling 999 in an emergency, calling 101 for a non-emergency, online or by calling in to a police station.

Details about locations of independent Hate Incident Reporting Centres can be found on West Yorkshire Police's website.