The impact of the coronavirus lockdown, along with protests supporting the Black Lives Matter movement, were two of the main factors named by forces as helping to drive the increase in offences, along with improved recording of hate crimes.
A total of 61,851 racially and religiously aggravated offences were recorded in 2020, up 7 per cent from 57,825 in 2019. This is also more than double the 28,479 offences recorded in 2013, the first calendar year for which comparable data is available.
Independent charity Victim Support described the figures as “shocking” and said it was “huge cause for concern that so many cases are left unsolved”, while the Equality and Human Rights Commission warned that although the police had taken “positive steps” in the recording of hate crime, “more still needs to be done to improve the process and the quality of support for victims”.
The National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) said forces had worked hard to improve their handling of hate crime, including better recording of offences, adding: “We are working with forces to help them understand and improve the service they provide to victims.”
The figures cover all forces in England and Wales except Greater Manchester Police, who were unable to provide full data from July 2019 to March 2020.
Of the 43 forces that did provide complete data, 33 reported a rise in racially and religiously aggravated offences from 2019 to 2020, while 30 forces said numbers last year reached a new high.
The offences – all of which are defined as hate crimes – include racially or religiously aggravated assault, harassment and criminal damage.
The Metropolitan Police recorded the highest number of these offences in 2020 (15,101; up 7 per cent from 14,051 in 2019), followed by West Midlands (5,115; up 23 per cent from 4,145) and Yorkshire’s largest police force - West Yorkshire (4,627; down 1 per cent from 4,681).
Assistant Chief Constable Catherine Hankinson of West Yorkshire Police, said: "All forms of hate crime are taken seriously and we actively encourage victims to come forward and report these matters to us, or through our partner agencies.
“Our ‘hate hurts’ campaign raises awareness about what hate crime is, and we have third party hate crime recording centres for those who feel they would rather report to partners than directly to ourselves.
“We also have dedicated hate crime co-ordinators in each of our five districts who assist investigating officers in identifying perpetrators, provide support for victims and increase awareness of hate crime.
“Working closely in this way with local authorities, Victim Support and community groups means that we can provide the necessary support so those affected can report hate crime in many different ways.”
Elsewhere in Yorkshire, North Yorkshire Police recorded the biggest increase from 323 offences in 2019 to 412 in 2020 -a 28 per cent rise.
Superintendent Mark Khan, of North Yorkshire Police, said: “Hate crime causes huge distress and lasting harm. Targeting someone simply because of their race, religion, disability, sexual orientation or gender is a crime which has an impact on individuals, their families and whole communities.
“I want to be clear that hate is not something that you have to live with. It’s crucial to tell the police about all incidents of hate, and we will always take reports extremely seriously.”
Humberside Police recorded a 22 per cent increase from 754 reports in 2019 to 918 in 2020.
Community Safety Manager, Adil Khan said: "Violence against anyone based on their race or religion is totally unacceptable and will not be tolerated.
"We will always take all matters reported to us seriously and we will do all we can to ensure those responsible are held to account for their actions.
"Our community cohesion officers and neighbourhood teams have been working closely within our diverse communities, speaking to them about the importance of reporting incidents to us and the best ways to do so.
“We want people to be confident they can report these types of crimes to us and know that all reports received will be taken seriously and treated sensitively."
Offences rose by 18 per cent across South Yorkshire, with 1,329 crimes reported to police in 2019, compared to 1,568 in 2020.
Chief Inspector Andy Berriman, force lead for hate crime, said: “Hate crime of any kind will not be tolerated in South Yorkshire. We have been working hard to build confidence within our communities so that people feel able to report crimes of this nature to us, and this is reflected in these figures.
“We understand that it takes a huge amount of courage to report these kinds of crimes, and I want to reassure victims that we will listen to you. We take all allegations of hate crime seriously and investigate them fully and I would strongly encourage people to report incidents to us."