RISING reports of anti-trans hate crimes could be partly down to politicians’ comments about trans people, the Home Office has said.

Anti-trans and religiously motivated hate crimes are on the rise, according to the latest figures from police forces in England and Wales, while overall levels of hate crime are falling.

It comes amid growing public debate around trans rights, sparked in part by controversy around Scotland’s gender recognition reform plans, which were intended to make it easier for people to change their legal sex.

The Prime Minister and other senior Tory politicians weighed in at the Conservative Party conference earlier this week, with the Health Secretary announcing plans to ban trans women from using female hospital wards.

The Home Secretary Suella Braverman backed the changes saying “trans women have no place in women’s wards or indeed any safe space relating to biological women”.

Anti-trans hate crimes rose in the 12 months to March 2023 by 11% to 4,732 offences while religiously motivated hate crimes were up by 9% to 9,387 offences.

Overall, a total of 145,214 offences were recorded in the two nations in the year ending March 2023, down 5% from 153,536 in the previous 12 months, the statistics showed.

In its accompanying notes with the latest statistics published on Thursday, the Home Office said: “Transgender issues have been heavily discussed by politicians, the media and on social media over the last year, which may have led to an increase in these offences, or more awareness in the police in the identification and recording of these crimes.”

'Toxic anti-LGBT language'

But the LGBT charity Stonewall said politicians were to blame for rising reports of anti-trans hate, saying many were “filling the public domain with toxic language that dehumanises LGBTQ+ people”.

When last year’s statistics were published and showed a rise in transgender hate crimes – albeit a larger one of more than 50% in a year – the Home Office’s accompanying notes mentioned only social media as being a possible factor.

The National: Trans rights campaigners

It stated at that time: “Transgender issues have been heavily discussed on social media over the last year, which may have led to an increase in related hate crimes.”

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Victim Support said “falling public trust in the police is a real issue” and suggested this may have contributed to the overall fall in the number of police-recorded hate crimes.

Becca Rosenthal, national hate crime lead at the charity, said: “Those we support increasingly tell us that they are reluctant to approach the police, so these figures could simply reflect less people reporting to the police. Given this, independent support services for victims have never been more important.”

The Home Office has instead said that police were now more selective in what was considered a hate crime due to new guidance which “may have led to greater scrutiny of the threshold of what constitutes a criminal offence of public fear, alarm or distress”.

The guidance by the College of Policing on the recording of non-crime hate incidents instructed officers to consider whether there was genuine hostility in the incident or whether it could be considered freedom of speech or thought.

Disability charity Leonard Cheshire called on the Government to reconsider the scrapping of plans to publish a hate crime strategy, which had been promised for 2021, and called for research to see if the new policing guidance had contributed to the fall in reported crimes.

Amy Little, head of advocacy at Leonard Cheshire, said: “Further hate crime research is essential. It’s important to find out if the slight overall decrease in hate crimes could be linked to new police guidance on recording non-crime hate incidents.

The National: Home Office

“The Government must rethink the plan not to publish a hate crime strategy. If the Government wants to set targets for police responses to crime, then hate crime – including disability hate crime – should be a key focus and not brushed aside.”

The hate crime strategy plan was dropped due to the Government insisting it was instead concentrating on improving the police response to “all crime”.

READ MORE: Tories to order NHS to ban trans women from using female-only hospital wards

Just over half (51%) of the hate crimes recorded by the police were for public order offences, 41% were for violence against the person offences and 5% were recorded as criminal damage and arson offences.

Religious hate crime up

Thursday’s statistics showed the most commonly targeted group when it came to religious hate crime were Muslims, accounting for 39% of religious hate crime offences. This was followed by Jewish people, who were targeted in 17% of religious hate crimes, then Christian (7%), Hindu and Sikh (both 3%).

In 22% of these offences the targeted religion was not known.

Sexual orientation hate crimes fell by 6%, to 24,102 offences and disability hate crimes fell by 1% to 13,777 offences.

The statistics showed that there were 101,906 race hate crimes in the year ending March 2023, down 6% from the previous year (108,476).

This year’s total figures do not include Devon and Cornwall Police, who were unable to provide information for 2022/23, the Home Office said.