Police in London's Westminster area
Police in London's Westminster areaiStock

Religious hate crimes in England and Wales increased by 40 percent in the past year, according to a report from England’s Home Office.

Some 52 percent of the hate crimes directed at specific religious groups, or 2,965, were directed at Muslims, and 12 percent, or 672, were directed at Jews, according to the report for 2017-18, which uses official police figures, the Evening Standard reported.

There were a total of 94,098 hate crime offenses in the period, an increase of 17 percent over the previous year.

The numbers on religious hate crime represented the sharpest rise, from 5,949 in 2016-17.

Three-quarters of the hate crimes, or 71,251, were based on race. Another 12 percent, or 11,638, were based on sexual orientation. Some 8,336, or 9 percent of the offenses, involved religion as a factor.

The data showed that hate crime in England and Wales rose by nearly a fifth over last year. Hate crimes according to police figures have more than doubled since 2012-13 to 94,098 from 42,255.

According to the report, 4.8 percent of the population identifies as Muslim in England and Wales, and 0.5 percent considers themselves Jewish.

The Home Office said that the large percent increases may be “due to the improvements made by the police into their identification and recording of hate crime offenses and more people coming forward to report these crimes rather than a genuine increase.”

“Today’s shocking revelations of a 40 percent rise in religious hate crime must serve as an urgent call to action,” said Marie van der Zyl, president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, according to the Jewish Chronicle. “All of us – faith leaders, politicians, and the media – should today step up our efforts to stamp out this cancer in our society.”

Shenoted that the most commonly targeted groups are Muslims and Jews.

“The Jewish community will continue to work in solidarity with Muslims and people of all faiths. We cannot let Britain become a place where a hijab or a kippa marks someone out as a target,” she said.