West Midlands Police should log Islamophobic hate crimes as a separate category following a series of attacks on mosques and Muslims, it has been claimed.
The call comes as the anti-Muslim campaign group the English Defence League said it was gearing up for a demonstration in Birmingham city centre on Saturday, July 20.
A home-made bomb was discovered recently at the Aisha Mosque in Walsall and there has been a perceived growth in anti-Muslim attacks nationwide since the death of serviceman Lee Rigby in Woolwich in May.
Birmingham City Council’s social cohesion watchdog committee was told that hate crime in general, and Islamophobia in particular, is vastly under reported and that victims lack confidence in the police to come forward.
A study by former West Midlands Police officer Mick Gillick has estimated that about 50 to 60 per cent of hate crimes go unreported.
He said police need to be more accurate in the reporting of hate crime.
“It is not just devastating for the victim and their families, but is devastating and divisive for communities in a way that burglary and car crime are not,” he said.
“It is important we get this right, particularly in Birmingham, in 2013.”
He said a key block was that figures for hate crime, of any sort, are not readily available on the Police or Community Safety Partnership websites.
Azad Ali, of lobby group Engaged, called for police and authorities to respond in stronger terms to attacks like that in Walsall.
He said: “Police use the term hate crime. An attack on a Synagogue would be described as ‘anti-semitic’ so an attack on a Mosque should be Islamophobia.”
The committee heard that West Midlands Police commissioner Bob Jones is supportive of recording hate crimes by type.
Supt Chris Johnson told the committee that work is going on to ‘build trust and confidence’ with communities and encourage victims to report hate crimes. “If we see the figure go up in the short term, we would consider that a success,” he said.
The committee heard that police are consulting with community leaders and city centre businesses ahead of the EDL demonstration.
Between 750 and 1,500 extremists are expected to protest between 2pm and 4pm on July 20, with counter-protests from the Unite Against Fascism groups.
* A 75-year-old man arrested in connection with a home-made explosive found near the Walsall mosque has been released on police bail pending further inquiries.