“Distressing” figures have revealed hate crimes in Oldham have increased by more than 60 per cent compared to pre-Covid levels.

There have been 3,737 hate crimes recorded in the borough since April 2019, according to information published by Greater Manchester Police on its website.

In the 12 months from April 2019, there were 558 hate crimes recorded compared to 917 in the April 2022/23 financial year– an increase of 64 per cent.

The latest figures, covering the six months from April to September 2023, show there have already been 472 hate crimes recorded – with it forecast to record 944 by the close of the financial year, which correlates to a 69 per cent increase since immediately before Covid.

“Oldham has had a long history of problems with hate crimes, but that is horrific,” Cllr Sam Al-Hamdani, of Lib Dem, said.

The Oldham Times:

“You do see regular examples of ignorance, as soon as you stop seeing people as people but part of a mass, just a group that they happen to be part of, it becomes a lot easier to dehumanise them.

“The end result is that they are not seen as people anymore and it’s a lot easier to see them in that way.”

He continued: “It’s worrying that the stats are that high but I don’t find it surprising, we need to do more to challenge people and break down barriers by working together in communities.

“When you are regularly working with people who are different to you, even on a social basis, you gain more experience.

“The economy has been bouncing along the floor for a while, and when there’s a gap between the rich and the poor it happens – there’s no excuse for it, but people will look for people to blame when they are struggling.”

Racial-motivated hate crimes make up 73.7 per cent of those recorded – with 2,757 since April 2019, with 339 occurring in the six months from April 2023.

It is forecasted that 678 will be recorded by the end of this financial year - up by 58.87 per cent from the 427 in recorded between April 2019 to March 2020.

There have also been 514 hate crimes recorded towards a resident’s sexual orientation, namely the gay community, which amounts to 13.7 per cent of the total recorded.

Hate crimes towards the gay community are forecasted to exceed the most recorded since records began, April 2021/22 saw the highest with 141 recorded, as 142 are predicted to take place in the borough by the end of the financial year.

In April 2019, 77 were recorded by police in 12 months, compared to the 71 recorded in the six months from April this year.

Greater Manchester Police defines a hate crime to be any criminal offence which is perceived by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by hostility or prejudice based on a person's race or perceived race – likewise for religion, sexual orientation, disability and being transgender.

Labour Cllr Shaid Mushtaq, deputy leader of Oldham Council, said: “I haven’t personally but I do get reports from constituents about hate crime.

The Oldham Times: Cllr Shaid Mushtaq has urged residents to report hate crimesCllr Shaid Mushtaq has urged residents to report hate crimes (Image: Oldham Council)

“The government and Suella Braverman don’t help – her comments just feed into the hate.

“At the council we do a lot of work around encouraging people to report it, as you are aware hate crimes could be someone racially abusing an individual – a lot of the time in the past they didn’t record it.”

He added: “If things like this carry on, and they continue to get away with it, what starts out as verbal abuse can become something more serious – so you might think it’s something trivial, but it’s not.”

While hate crimes are high in Oldham, the town has recorded less hate crimes than neighbouring Rochdale at 4,004 but 428 more than Tameside.

However, in the six months from April this year the borough has recorded 40 more hate crimes than Rochdale and 127 more than Tameside.

There have been 337 recorded against people with disabilities, 39 of which came since April – which would forecast a total of 78 for 2023/24, down from 119 last year.

The Oldham Times: Cllr Barbara Brownbridge labelled the increase in hate crimes as distressingCllr Barbara Brownbridge labelled the increase in hate crimes as distressing (Image: Oldham Council)

Cllr Barbara Brownbridge, of Labour, said: “I find it very distressing that in the 21st century we are still having that problem – hate crimes need to be taken very seriously as it’s an introduction to terrorism.

“Fortunately, people do record it more these days than they would have.”

The Oldham Times: Cllr Howard Sykes has called for firm action to be taken against offendersCllr Howard Sykes has called for firm action to be taken against offenders (Image: Oldham Council)

Meanwhile, 345 hate crimes were recorded in relation to religion or belief - 9.5 per cent coming in this financial year.

The trans community recorded 64 against them - 10 of which came since April this year, three more than the entirety of April 19/20.

“What we need is firm action and more prosecutions to people that do it, because it is not acceptable,” added Lib Dem Cllr Howard Sykes MBE.

In a statement temporary superintendent Carl O'Brien, of GMP Oldham's district, he urged residents to have enough "trust and confidence" in the force to report hate crimes.

It mentioned that the neighbourhood policing teams in Oldham have been "proactively engaging to follow up on reports of hate crime" and offer victims support.

He said: “This has naturally resulted in the number of reports increasing, as without being told about the crime officers cannot conduct the relevant enquiries to investigate.

“However, recently, October has seen our lowest number of hate crime incidents being reported in Oldham, at 33, since April 2019, and is one of the lowest of any Greater Manchester district as a result.

“Our work doesn’t stop, and we will continue to increase our solve rates which is also above the force’s average thanks to our positive work in this area."