Judicial System Is ‘Failing Jews’
The Crown Prosecution Service is to investigate why fewer than one in 10 anti-Semitic incidents results in prosecution, the Government will announce today. The review follows criticism by MPs that the judicial system is failing Jews, who are more vulnerable to attacks and abuse than at any time for a generation.
Police forces are also overhauling their procedures for recording such incidents after MPs complained that many were “complacent”. The measures will be announced as part of a Government campaign to combat concerns that anti-Semitism is on the rise in Britain and across Europe.
Ministers are particularly worried about anti-Jewish agitation on university campuses, and have ordered a Government task force to tackle the issue as a “matter of urgency”. They are to urge the police to use the Public Order Act 1986, which outlaws the spread of racial hatred, where there is enough evidence to bring prosecutions against Islamic extremists for speeches on campuses.
The task force, which is jointly run by the Home Office and the Communities Department, will also step up efforts to counter political extremism and racism on the internet.
A report by an all-party committee of MPs in September said there was evidence of a steady increase in attacks on Jewish people and property since 2000, aggravated by tensions in the Middle East.
According to the figures from Jewish groups, there were 594 anti-Semitic incidents in Britain in 2006, up 31 per cent from 2005. More than a fifth of the incidents, which included 112 assaults and 70 attacks on properties, took place during the 34-day war between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon in July and August.
The committee’s members said the most worrying aspect of the inquiry was that anti-Jewish sentiment was “appearing in the everyday conversations of people who consider themselves neither racist nor prejudiced”.
Iain Duncan Smith, the former Tory leader who sat on the panel, said it was “perverse” that not all police forces recorded anti-Semitic attacks, adding that some forces “verge on the complacent”.
The MPs’ report said Jewish students felt “isolated and unsupported,” and that pro-Palestine debates were being used as a “vehicle for anti-Jewish language”. Ministers said they were working with the police to improve ways of collecting data on hate crimes.