There have been 500 hate crimes against Muslims recorded by the Metropolitan Police this year, as Islamophobic offences soared nationwide.
London’s police force, which is also the country’s largest, dealt with 336 offences in 2012, meaning this year’s figure – which only covers up to mid-November – represents a 49 per cent rise.
Many forces across the country reported a surge in the number of anti-Muslim hate crimes following the murder of soldier Lee Rigby by two Islamic extremists in Woolwich - though nowhere were as many reported as in London.
And it is feared the figures could be much higher after nearly half of the 43 forces in England and Wales did not reveal how many hate crimes had targeted Muslims - with some forces admitting they do not always record the faith of a religious hate crime victim.
Freedom of Information requests were sent by the Press Association to every police force in England and Wales.
Fiyaz Mujhal, director of Faith Matters, said reaction to the murder of Fusilier Rigby had caused the number of Islamophobic crimes to “significantly jump”.
“The far right groups, particularly the EDL (English Defence League) perniciously use the internet and social media to promote vast amounts of online hate,” he said.
Mr Mujhal said tougher sentencing was needed to tackle Islamophobic crime and branded guidelines by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to monitor social media as “not fit for purpose”.
He said: “They raised the bar of prosecution significantly.
“Now unless there is a direct threat to somebody on Twitter or Facebook, the CPS will not prosecute. The CPS is just plainly out of sync with reality.
“We also need more robust sentencing. In one case, a pig’s head was left outside a mosque and the perpetrator came away with a community sentence.
“When you target a mosque, you are targeting the whole community.”
The Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) has previously said 71 incidents were reported to its national community tension team (NCTT) over five days after Fusilier Rigby was murdered on May 22.
Superintendent Paul Giannasi, Acpo’s spokesman on hate crime, said: “The police service is committed to reducing the harm caused by hate crime and it is vital that we encourage more victims who suffer crimes to report them to the police or through third party reporting facilities such as Tell Mama.”
A Ministry of Justice spokesman described the offences as “despicable crimes that devastate lives and communities”, adding that the numbers receiving custodial sentences for such offences was “higher than ever before”.
A CPS spokeswoman said: “Online communication can be offensive, shocking or in bad taste.
“However, as set out in CPS guidelines on prosecuting cases involving communications sent via social media, content has to be more than simply offensive to be contrary to the criminal law.
“In order to preserve the right to free speech the threshold for prosecution must be high and only communications that are grossly offensive, indecent, obscene or false are prohibited by the legislation.”
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