Police have recorded a sharp increase in hate crimes against Chinese people during the coronavirus outbreak, figures show.
The number of offences reported in the first three months of 2020 has almost tripled compared to the same period for 2018 and 2019.
Between January and March, when the Covid-19 pandemic was intensifying within the UK, at least 267 reports of hate crime were made across the UK.
From this figure, 63 offences were recorded by the Metropolitan Police, while forces in Cumbria, Devon and Cornwall, Essex, Humberside and Northamptonshire have already received more reports this year than they did throughout the whole of 2019.
In total, 375 hate crimes against Chinese people were recorded last year, up from 360 in 2018.
The new figures were released via freedom of information requests, submitted to the UK’s 45 territorial police forces and British Transport Police (BTP) by Sky News.
Since the outbreak of Covid-19 in the UK, multiple incidents of racism against Chinese people have been reported, with victims having been spat at, punched and verbally abused in the street.
Deputy chief constable Mark Hamilton, the national policing lead for hate crime, said that “no one is responsible for the outbreak and everyone has a right to be protected from targeted abuse”.
“We know that some forces have unfortunately had reports about a small number of offenders who have committed hate crimes against those from Chinese and South East Asian communities and linked to the Covid-19 outbreak,” he told Sky News.
In March, the owner of a Chinese takeaway owner in Hitchin, Hertfordshire was “spat at” in the face by a teenage boy who demanded to know if he “had coronavirus”, in an incident recorded as a racially aggravated common assault.
Sharon So, daughter of the takeaway’s owner, told The Independent that the offender, part of a group of three, began recording her father on his phone and demanding to know if he was infected with the virus. Read more