Hate offences against Jews in Scotland reach worst level on record

Ephraim Borowski, President of the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities. Photograph by John Devlin.
Ephraim Borowski, President of the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities. Photograph by John Devlin.
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Scotland recorded 26 anti-Semitic incidents in 2016, with new figures revealing that suspected hate offences targeting Jewish victims UK-wide surged for the third consecutive year to reach the worst level on record.

Anti-Semitic crimes recorded by police forces around the UK increased by 14.9 per cent in 2016, according to data provided following Freedom of Information requests.

The total of 1,078 offences registered last year compared to 938 in 2015 and 746 in 2014.

Figures provided by Police Scotland under a Freedom of Information request show that of the 26 anti-Semitic crimes logged in Scotland, 15 were charged, while a further 19 “non-criminal” anti-Semitic incidents also took place.

The Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, which compiled the analysis, said it was not clear whether that was because only a small number of anti-Semitic incidents had occurred among a relatively small Jewish population or because cases had not been recorded.

It said the force did not provide any data for 2015 and did not provide details of violent crime or break down its other data between April and December 2016.

Last year, a study funded by the Scottish Government found that the Jewish community was feeling increasingly afraid – with many opting to keep their Judaism a secret. The report, carried out by SCoJeC, found that some of Scotland’s 5,887 Jews said that they had stopped attending synagogue services due to fear of anti-Semitism, were the victims of anti-Semitic jokes or social media posts and felt victimised for being Jewish.

Gideon Falter, chairman of Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, told Scotland on Sunday: “In stark contrast to other police forces around the UK, Police Scotland has decided not to provide us with a proper breakdown of anti-Semitic crime, and in particular they have conspicuously not revealed the number of violent anti-Semitic attacks.”

Campaigners also claim a “paltry” 15 cases across the UK were prosecuted last year.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has said it does not recognise the figure and that it takes prosecuting such crimes very seriously.

The campaign’s report warned that a consistently elevated level of anti-Semitic crime had become the “new normality” for British Jews since the middle of 2014. Falter added: “There is a very real danger of Jewish citizens emigrating, as has happened elsewhere in Europe unless there is radical change.”

A spokesman for the CPS said: “Last year we prosecuted more hate crimes than ever before – more than 15,000 cases. We do not recognise the statistics contained in this report.”

Police Scotland was not available for comment.