Change in LGBT+ hate crime levels not as simple as Dawn Butler suggests

18 February 2020
What was claimed

There has been a 400% increase in hate crime within the LGBT+ community.

Our verdict

Incorrect. There are two sources of data on this type of hate crime. One estimates a 261% increase in hate crime on the basis of sexual orientation and transgender identity, and the other estimates a 40% decrease in hate crimes based on sexual orientation since around 2010. Neither measure is perfect.

“We’ve had nearly a 400% increase in hate crime with the LGBT+ community”

Dawn Butler MP, 17 February 2020

Speaking on ITV’s Good Morning Britain, Dawn Butler, the shadow secretary of state for women and equalities, said that hate crimes against members of the LGBT+ community has increased by almost 400%.

We’ve contacted Dawn Butler for more information about this claim but it doesn’t seem correct.

The number of sexual orientation and transgender hate crimes recorded by police in England and Wales increased by 261% between 2011/12 and 2018/19, not by 400%.

However, another source of hate crime data, the Crime Survey for England and Wales, estimates that sexual orientation hate crime has actually decreased by 40% over roughly this period. The Crime Survey aims to gauge the total level of crime, whether reported to and recorded by the police, or not.

Neither of these measurements is perfect, and so neither gives a full picture of hate crime across England and Wales.

Hate crimes recorded by the police

The Home Office publishes the number of hate crimes recorded by the police in England and Wales. These figures are published separately by ‘hate crime strand’. Two of these categories are sexual orientation and transgender identity. We are presuming that Dawn Butler was referring to both of these types of hate crime.

We don’t know the time period Ms Butler was referring to, but have looked at the largest increase in hate crime records, from 2011/12, when comparable recording started, and the latest data.  

The number of recorded sexual orientation hate crimes increased from 4,345 in 2011/12 to 14,491 in 2018/19: a 234% increase. Over the same period the number of recorded transgender hate crimes increased by 645%, from 313 to 2,333.

When both types of hate crime are combined, there was a 261% increase in the number of these crimes recorded by the police between 2011/12 and 2018/19.

However, there are problems with the measurement of hate crime, which we have written about before. As stated by the Home Office, “increases in hate crime over the last five years have been mainly driven by improvements in crime recording by the police”.

The Crime Survey for England and Wales

The other source of hate crime statistics is the Crime Survey for England and Wales. This is a face-to-face population survey that collects information on all perceived victimisation, not just that reported to the police.

Numbers of incidents are combined over several years to make the results more reliable. The rates of incidents in the survey are then multiplied by population estimates for England and Wales to get a population-level number of crimes.

As so few people in the survey report gender identity hate crime, there is no estimate given for this type of crime. However, this is unlikely to have a significant effect on the change in this estimate of LGBT+ hate crimes, as the reported figures are so small.

This survey estimated that there were 42,000 incidents of sexual orientation hate crime per year between 2009/10 and 2011/12 decreasing to 30,000 per year between 2015/16 and 2017/18 (using combined-year statistics). This is an estimated 40% decrease over roughly the same period as covered by the police records.

As with police records, crime survey data also isn’t perfect. The survey’s data doesn’t include, for example, crimes against children under 16, which is captured in police data.

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