More than a dozen anti-Semitic hate incidents were reported in Lancashire last year, figures reveal, as the number recorded nationwide hit a record high.
Jewish safety charity the Community Security Trust said a rise in online incidents was the biggest driver behind the increase across Britain – but warned the figures are “likely to understate the scale of the problem”.
The charity received 13 reports of anti-Semitic incidents from victims, witnesses or other organisations in the Lancashire Constabulary area in 2019.That was one fewer than during 2018, when there were 12.
The most common type of incident was abusive behaviour with 10 reports, followed by two cases of damage or desecration of Jewish property and one assault.
Across Britain, 1,805 reports were received during the year, a seven per cent increase on 2018 and the highest number since records began in 1984.
More than a third of incidents occurred online (697) – a rise of 82 per cent since last year – with most taking place on social media.
The charity said the number of online incidents “are only indicative and are likely to understate the scale of the problem” as each campaign of abuse targeted at individual victims are recorded as a single incident, despite the fact some “often involve dozens of social media accounts and hundreds or even thousands of tweets, images or posts”.
The highest monthly totals were in February (182) and December (184) during times which saw “prominent and intense debate over allegations of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party”, the charity claimed.
CST chief executive David Delew said: “It is clear that both social media and mainstream politics are places where anti-Semitism and racism need to be driven out, if things are to improve in the future.”
Board of Deputies of British Jews president Marie van der Zyl said the findings were “profoundly depressing”.
She added: “No doubt the ongoing anti-Semitism crisis in the Labour Party has had an effect on the figures and they will cause great anxiety to Jews in this country.
“Overall it must be emphasised that Britain remains a happy place for its Jewish community.
“However, we call on the country’s political leaders – in all parties – to fight the evil of anti-Jewish racism and make this a just, safe and respectful society for everyone.”
Home Secretary Priti Patel described the findings as “appalling”.
“I am pushing for greater collaboration, both across government, policing, the courts and community groups, to remove this shameful stain on our society,” she added.
A Labour Party spokeswoman said: “It is deeply distressing that anti-Semitism is rising in our society and other countries.
“We thank the Community Security Trust for the vital work it does highlighting and confronting anti-Semitism and in providing support and security for Jewish communities.
“Anti-Semitism has no place in the Labour Party and we are taking more decisive action than ever before, and more than any other political party, to root out this bigotry and racism.”
Incidents reported in Lancashire:
10 incidents of abusive behaviour
Two incidents of damage or desecration of Jewish property