Brent sees an eight-fold increase in Islamophobic attacks in December compared to year before

Chief Superintendent Michael Gallagher is Brent Police commander

Chief Superintendent Michael Gallagher is Brent Police commander - Credit: Archant

Islamophobic attacks in Brent increased eight-fold last December compared to the same month in 2014 following the terrorist atrocity in Paris last year.

Flowers at the scene in Paris (Pic: PA)

Flowers at the scene in Paris (Pic: PA) - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

The number of incidents reported in December 2015, a month after the attacks that left 130 people dead, were eight compared to none in December 2014.

The borough also experienced a 72 per cent hike in rape, 68pc increase in motor vehicle theft and a surge in muggings of 42pc in December last year compared to the figures recorded in December 2014.

In total crime in Brent was up by 13pc last december compared to the same month in 2014, which Chief Superintendent Michael Gallagher, Brent Police commander, is blaming on a number of factors, including a “seasonal uplift” from criminals coming up for parole during the festive period.

The sharp increase in Islamophobic attacks is coupled with a 30 per cent increase in racist and religious hate crime to 52 offences in December last year compared to the same month in 2014.

Ch. Supt Gallagher told the Times this was due to more Muslims coming forward and reporting such crimes because officers have visited worshippers and Imams at eight of the borough’s 12 mosques.

He said: “The rise in these offences is due to Muslims feeling empowered to come forward and communicate with police.

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“The Muslim community is very well integrated here and the main thing is for people to be alert but not alarmed.”

Responding to data showing there were 19 recorded cases of rape in the last four weeks of December, up from 11 in 2014, he said: “It is worrying. But the high numbers may be due to police making tremendous efforts to encourage women to come forward and report abuse because they are aware they can pursue justice through the police and the courts.”

According to Chief Supt Gallagher criminals being released from prison in time for Christmas was behind the increase in motor vehicle thefts.

He said: “That’s because the majority of these offenders don’t get very long sentences.”

He added that police were taking concerted action to raise awareness amongst motorists in “susceptible” areas and advised residents to “lock vehicles up safely, don’t leave bags or valuables on show and be aware of what is around you.”

He highlighted levels of domestic abuse were coming down and said female residents “should feel safe” but warned: “It is a fact of life there men out there that seek to change that. We should therefore be aware of the places and time where women may be more vulnerable.”

Whilst gun-related offences halved to five for the comparable months, figures show there were 755 violent crimes in December last year, up from 673 in the same period in 2014.

Ch. Supt said his officers have been tackling a surge in knife crime around Harlesden and the south of the borough by increasing targeted stop and searches and engaging with community members through joint initiatives with Brent Council. Cllr James Denselow, Brent Council’s cabinet member for stronger communities, added: “There have been some kinds of crime that have shown worrying increases , including violent crimes – though Brent’s increases being rather lower than the London average.

“Knife crimes and gun crimes are still quite rare in Brent, but obviously we’re working hard to bring them down and are disappointed to have seen these slight increases more recently.”