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Stamford Hill Shomrim chair Rabbi Herschel Gluck says police funding cuts to blame for rise in hate crime

PUBLISHED: 14:08 27 November 2019 | UPDATED: 14:20 27 November 2019

Rabbi Herschel Gluck OBE speaks at a Stand Up to Racism event earlier this year. Picture: Polly Hancock

Rabbi Herschel Gluck OBE speaks at a Stand Up to Racism event earlier this year. Picture: Polly Hancock

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The president of Stamford Hill's volunteer-led neighbourhood watch group Shomrim believes police funding cuts have fuelled a rise in hate crime.

Nathan Schwartz and Boruch Lewin. Picture: Adrian ZorzutNathan Schwartz and Boruch Lewin. Picture: Adrian Zorzut

Rabbi Herschel Gluck said minorities including the Haredi Jewish community are being attacked on a regular basis and there are not enough police in the area to deal with the issue.

He believes the attacks are being carried out by people most affected by austerity who let their frustrations out on his community. He said they, along with gangs, felt "emboldened" by a smaller police presence.

"This is a problem which cuts across the board regarding people from all types of minorities," he told the Gazette. "The people who commit these offences have very often themselves suffered issues and sadly they feel frustrated and instead of doing something positive, they do something negative."

It comes as three members of Hasidic community Orthodox Jewish boys were attacked on a 253 bus in Clapton Common on Sunday. One victim was punched in the face, and all had their hats thrown off.

Rabbi Gluck said Brexit and Labour's antisemitism problems have had little to do with the rise in attacks.

"I do not think any of the attacks in Hackney have been caused by issues in the Labour Party or Jeremy Corbyn," he continued.

"These are antisemitic attacks, pure and simple, and I think they are part of a pattern that started long before Brexit and have increased exponentially since the current government came in," he said.

He acknowledged the Met has worked tirelessly to protect his and other minorities but feels the recent pledge to add 20,000 more officers across England and Wales over three years is still not enough.

"This doesn't even bring the police numbers back to the 2010 figure, and even then we were suffering from antisemitic attacks, so we require more people than in 2010," he said.

The shortage is affecting everyone. Shomrim, which patrols the streets, is now answering call-outs for burglary and muggings from people outside the Jewish community.

He said: "They are coming to us for help and make up at least 70 per cent of our case load."

The Met has struggled to plug a £700m shortfall in funds since 2010, leading to a loss of 3,000 officers, 3,000 police community support officer (PCSOs), and 5,000 staff by the end of 2018, according to Sadiq Khan. Government reports suggest the force only grew by 120 duty-ready officers this year.

At the same time, racial hate crimes have steadily risen since 2013/2014. Just last month, the Home Office reported these crimes rose by 11pc - 78,991 offences. That is 290 racist hate crimes on average a week.

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The Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime stated 181 faith-based hate crimes also occur monthly in London, with Barnet seeing the highest volume of antisemitic incidents and Tower Hamlets the largest number of Islamophobic hate crimes.

Nathan Schwartz, a director at Silverman Optometrists in Stamford Hill, told the Gazette his community was losing faith in the local force.

"I know there are a number of incidents that aren't reported to police because they won't arrive on time or do much about it, unless the perpetrator is holding a gun or a knife," he said. "This means more and more people rely on the Shomrim."

Shop assistant Mendel, 27, said he just wanted to feel safe wearing traditional Jewish attire in public.

"I just want to feel safe going to synagogue and being able to wear my kippa in public," he said.

The Community Security Trust (CST) - a UK antisemitism watchdog - released a report earlier this year stating reports of antisemitic incidents rose to record highs in the first six months of 2019.

Titled Antisemitic Incidents, it said acts such as physical and verbal abuse; property damage; threats; and offensive literature increased by 10pc on 2018 figures to 892.

Rates spiked in February and March when the issue of antisemitism in the Labour Party was brought to media attention, resulting in the resignation of several MPs.

Although incidents have dropped by 1pc in London, the community is still bracing for a surge.

"It's not 1930s Germany, by any stretch of the imagination, but I don't think that should be our yardstick," said Rabbi Gluck.

"Our criterion is that we live in a democratic country and we're very pleased and grateful. In that society, people who look different shouldn't be attacked, abused, or made to feel scared."

The Met said it was working with City Hall, local communities, and organisations such as victim advocacy group CATCH (Community Alliance To Combat Hate) to tackle the issue. It recently allocated £500,000 in funding to these groups.

In October Supt Waheed Khan, the Met's hate crime lead, said: "The Met remains committed to tackling hate crimes in all its forms, and we will continue to work with our partners and the public to do so."

Anyone with information about the Clapton Common incident can call police on 101 or tweet @MetCC and quote CAD5111/24Nov.

Alternatively, call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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