The British government has set aside £2.4 million to assist churches, mosques, and other places of worship at risk of religious hate crimes. The “Hate Crime Action Plan” is a response to the alarming increase in racially motivated attacks since the Brexit vote a month ago. The new Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, announced the plan today.
The Guardian reported,
The action plan will contain measures aimed at encouraging the reporting of incidents as well as work to prevent offences on public transport.
Prosecutors will be urged to press for tougher sentences for perpetrators of hate crimes, while a £2.4m fund will be set up for security measures and equipment at synagogues, mosques, churches and other places of worship.
Figures in religious communities have raised concerns about crimes ranging from graffiti to arson.
Rudd said: “This government is determined to build a Britain that works for everyone. Those who practise hatred send out a message that it’s OK to abuse and attack others because of their nationality, ethnicity or religious background; that it’s OK to disregard our shared values and promote the intolerance that causes enormous harm to communities and individuals.
“Well, I have a very clear message for them – we will not stand for it. Hatred has no place whatsoever in a 21st-century Great Britain that works for everyone. “We are Great Britain because we are united by values such as democracy, free speech, mutual respect and opportunity for all.
“We are the sum of all our parts – a proud, diverse society. Hatred does not get a seat at the table, and we will do everything we can to stamp it out.”
The action plan was launched following a rise in racist incidents since the UK voted to withdraw from the European Union. This has led in particular to an increase in anti-Muslim and anti-Semitic incidents.
The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has frequently spoken out against the rise in racist incidents since the EU referendum. Earlier this month, at the Church of England’s General Synod in York, he said: “It is perfectly clear that the result and the referendum campaign had “exposed deep divisions in our society, of which we were aware already” and he called on the Church to “respond with a fresh effort in integration.”
The government plan will also look at hate-related bullying in British schools, after police reports that young people accounted for 10% of faith-related and 8% of racial hate crime victims over the month just ended, according to the Guardian.
The security funding is available to eligible places of worship in England and Wales for eight weeks, starting today, and can be applied against such things as locks, bollards, security lighting and alarms, and CCTV cameras. More information on applying for the assistance is available here.