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Last Updated: Friday, 11 February, 2005, 01:21 GMT
Anti-Semitic crime 'reaches high'
Graffiti on gravestones in Aldershot
Five Jewish cemeteries were desecrated in 2004
New figures suggest the number of abusive and violent attacks on Britain's Jewish community reached record levels in 2004.

Incidents rose by more than a third to reach 532 last year, according to the Jewish organisation Community Security Trust (CST), which compiled the report.

A CST spokesman described the increase as "extremely alarming".

A police spokesman said most of the increase was probably due to better reporting of incidents to the CST.

Rob Beckley, of the Association of Chief Police Officers, said anti-Semitic crimes reported to the police had for some time been significantly higher than those recorded by CST.

The transfer of tensions in the Middle East to the streets of Britain has resulted in an unprecedented level of anti-Semitic incidents
Michael Whine, CST
"We believe that the similarity of figures now indicates that both organisations are becoming effective in identifying and recording anti-Semitism, rather than necessarily reflecting a sudden major rise across the country," Mr Beckley said.

However, any anti-Semitic incidents were a matter of "great concern" to the police service, Mr Beckley added, and officers were committed to taking positive action against the perpetrators.

Physical assaults

Records of anti-Semitic incidents which it defines as "any malicious act aimed at the Jewish community or Jewish individuals" have been kept by CST since 1984.

The previous highest figure recorded was 405 in 2000.

CST's Michael Whine said the increase was particularly notable for some types of offences, such as physical assaults.

"The transfer of tensions in the Middle East to the streets of Britain has resulted in an unprecedented level of anti-Semitic incidents," Mr Whine said.

Nearly 60% of anti-Semitic incidents - 311 - took place in the Greater London area with just under 100 being recorded in Greater Manchester.

Heated debate

The report said the record number of assaults meant, for the first time in five years, assaults on people outnumbered incidents involving Jewish property which included the desecration of 17 synagogues and five Jewish cemeteries.


The biggest increase was in the area of anti-Semitic threats which rose to 93 in 2004, a total of 323%.

This increase was fuelled partly by the activities of one man, Riaz Mohammed Burahee, who was convicted of making 28 threatening phone calls to synagogues in London.

The CST report comes amid debate in Parliament on religiously-motivated crime.

The Serious and Organised Crime Bill currently going through Parliament aims to make inciting religious hatred a crime for the first time and close a loophole in present laws.

A Home Office spokeswoman said the government believed tougher laws were the way forward for dealing with crime aimed at Jewish and other religious groups.

"Our track record for tackling anti-Semitism is a good one and we believe that our approach of introducing strong and effective legislation, while working closely with community groups and working in the field of education is the right one," she said.


BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
Police say the increase is down to better reporting




SEE ALSO:
Religious hatred law gets backing
07 Feb 05 |  Politics


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