The Liberal Democrats have called on the Home Secretary to tackle coronavirus-related hate crimes against the Chinese community, including requiring government officials to collect data on the ethnicity of hate crime victims.
The call comes amid concerns about incidents of racially-motivated hate crimes against people in the Chinese community during the coronavirus pandemic, with Sky reporting that at least 267 offences were recorded by the police in the first three months of 2020.
Despite the reports, Minister of State in the Home Office Kit Malthouse confirmed in a response to a parliamentary question from Liberal Democrat MP Christine Jardine that the Government does not know how many anti-Chinese hate crimes there are, because “Information is not routinely collected on the ethnicity of victims.
In a letter to the Home Secretary from Christine Jardine MP, Daisy Cooper MP and Isabelle Parasram, Vice President of the Liberal Democrats, the Liberal Democrats have urged the Home Secretary to use her public platforms to “condemn this pernicious new form of racism.”
Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Christine Jardine said:
“Everyone should be free to live their lives without fear of discrimination, abuse or violence. Reports of Chinese people in the UK experiencing racist incidents linked to coronavirus are therefore deeply alarming.
“All of us with a public platform must stand up to those whose language and actions spread hate – whether on the basis of race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability or anything else.
"The Home Secretary must step up and tackle this appalling trend head-on. That work cannot be effectively undertaken unless the Government records and tracks these crimes, so I urge the Home Secretary to enact that change today."
Suresh Grover, Director of The Monitoring Group, added:
“Since the Covid-19 emergency, our figures show a worrying spike of race hate crimes against Chinese communities driven by blame China narratives. The incidents range from verbal abuse to physical assaults.
“Our report, Hidden from Public View, published almost a decade ago, concluded that racism against Chinese community is not only rarely acknowledged by public authorities but suffers disproportionately when compared to the experience of other BAME communities.
“It is now imperative for the Government take immediate steps to address this gap so that both the policies and data reflect the actual lived experience.”
Dr Yeow Poon, Chair of Covid19 Anti-Racism Action Group, added:
"It not helpful as having actual hate crime statistics rather than relying on anecdotes and surveys would better enable us to confront racism and support our different communities.
"The British Chinese are the third largest ethnic group in the UK, yet as with other ethnic groups, remain invisible in the Home Office reports on hate crime.”
Dr George Lee, speaking for the Chinese Liberal Democrats, added:
"British Chinese contribute enormously to the wealth and well-being of this country. As citizens we should be afforded the same rights and respect as any other citizen to live our lives without fear or discrimination.
"We look to the UK Government, politicians, the media and other public figures to show leadership and set the right tone during this crisis not of our making."