UK claims progress in combating anti-Semitism

Says "action is being taken across government" and extensive changes implemented to tackle phenomenon.

anti-Semitism UK great 8 (photo credit: )
anti-Semitism UK great 8
(photo credit: )
The British government says it has made significant progress in tackling anti-Semitism over the past year. Reporting to Parliament on Monday, one year after a government report on an All-Party Inquiry into anti-Semitism and working with Jewish community organizations that was published in September 2006, the government said "action is being taken across government" and extensive changes implemented to tackle anti-Semitism in the UK. Parmjit Dhanda, minister for cohesion, communities and local government, said: "We have made good progress against the recommendations but there is no room for complacency. We will continue to take practical, effective action to stamp out anti-Semitism whenever and wherever it occurs." Dhanda spoke at a reception at the House of Commons on Monday evening. The government focused on anti-Semitic incidents and discourse; sources of contemporary anti-Semitism; anti-Semitism on campus; and addressing anti-Semitism. "We are committed to increasing the number of hate crimes brought to prosecution, tackling anti-Semitism on university campuses and challenging hate crime and extremism on the Internet. We have agreed to continue our support of the cross-departmental and Jewish-stakeholder working group, and will report back to Parliament on further progress in 2010," Dhanda said. In March 2007, the government, in response to the All Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Anti-Semitism report, came up with 35 recommendations. These included action to improve the recording and reporting of anti-Semitic incidents; increasing the effectiveness of the criminal justice system in prosecuting hate crimes; promoting community cohesion; and the creation of a cross-government working task group. The government this week told Parliament it had made significant progress in the year since then. This included ensuring that by April 2009, all police forces will collect data on all hate crime, including anti-Semitism; agreeing that local authorities can use their devolved capital funding for investment in security at schools; funding the European Institute for the Study of Contemporary Anti-Semitism to research the impact of anti-Semitic discourse; the launch of the Race for Justice Declaration - a cross-government strategy that aims to combat all forms of hate crime; and a commitment to significantly increase the core funding provided to the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust for each of the next three years. "I am delighted to see that real progress has been made over the past 12 months," Labor member of Parliament John Mann, chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group, said. "The purpose of the Inquiry our group commissioned was to engage government and civil society as partners in the struggle against prejudice and discrimination, and this report shows that we are advancing toward where we need to be with particularly good news relating to prosecutions, policing and international cooperation. "Parliament will continue to watch with interest as these recommendations and innovations are implemented, especially in the most pressing spheres like anti-Semitism on campus. There is no room for complacency in this essential endeavor; we look to government and civil society to sustain this encouraging effort and anticipate government's next progress report by 2010." Last week, a Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) investigation into cases involving anti-Semitism, carried out as part of its response to Inquiry report, found that more needs to be done to encourage victims to support a prosecution. "When the CPS looked into the reasons for the low number of prosecutions it found that, where a suspect was identified, around a third of the cases did not go ahead, said Sir Ken Macdonald, director of Public Prosecutions. "Most often, the reason for that was because the victim did not wish to support a prosecution. "We will be working with the police, as well as with the Jewish community, to inspire greater confidence in people and encourage them to help us bring to justice those who commit these despicable crimes," Macdonald added. The Inquiry made two recommendations about the Crown Prosecution Service: that it look into the reasons for the low number of prosecutions and that it review cases of incitement to racial hatred to see what lessons can be learned. "We welcome this review and the systematic approach the CPS has taken in response to our Anti-Semitism Inquiry," Mann said. "Together we must all do more to increase reporting of anti-Semitic hate crime and ensure that successful convictions result from the investigations."