Short version: Per capita, Jewish people are far more likely to be the target of a religiously motivated hate crime than people of other religions in England and Wales. Jewish people are over four times more likely than Islamic people who are the second most-likely. Islamic people are twice as likely to be the target, per capita, of Sikh people, and the per capita rate of religiously motivated hate crimes is very small for the remaining religions.

Long version

The UK Home Office publishes statistics about the number of hate crimes committed each year, and the UK Office of National Statistics publishes statistics about the number of people who follow various religions. This short article combines those two data sources to roughly understand how many religious hate crimes take place per capita. I think it is reasonable to roughly characterise the results as an indicator of how likely a person of a given religious faith is likely to be the target of a hate crime.

Imagine it in this way: there are a million hypothetical hate crimes against people of ReligionA, and ten hate crimes against people of ReligionB. If there’s a billion followers of ReligionA, then that’s “only” one hate crime for every thousand followers. If there’s only a hundred followers of ReligionB, then that’s one hate crime for every ten followers: a vastly higher rate per capita.

This data is indicative, not perfect

There are a few key disclaimers that need to be understood: there are significant limitations in accurately and consistently recording hate crime, and there are significant limitations in accurately and consistently recording the religious affiliation of people in the United Kingdom. The limitations around recording hate crimes are laid out fairly comprehensively by the UK Home Office here. The limitations around population estimates by religion are laid out by the UK Office of National Statistics are laid out here: The chief limitation for religious population estimates is that the key data source is based upon the 2011 UK Census, and updated using various surveys since. Since 2011, there has likely been significant population changes since that time, so again, the data is indicative, not perfect.

This short article by me does not seek to delve into the moral, social or political questions in determining exactly what a hate crime is, nor in determining the specifics of religious identification. It just uses the UK Government’s definitions, and the data provided by UK Police. The result is that the results below will be indicative, not perfect. Think of them as having a large margin of error around the numbers if that helps you understand.

Population Estimates by Religion

The first complexity is that the data provided by the ONS is broken down into two jurisdictions: England and Wales. Data is provided on a percentage basis, rather than overall numbers.

ReligionPooled APS-based estimatesPooled APS-based estimates
None + Not Stated32.8%40.0%

So, we’ve got to get the population figures from elsewhere:


Multiplying and then adding those numbers together gives us:

Resulting NumbersEnglandWalesTotal England and Wales
Christian                           31,858,420                             1,759,306                    33,617,726
Buddhist                               281,435                                   9,459                         290,893
Hindu                               956,878                                 12,612                         969,490
Jewish                               281,435                                   3,153                         284,588
Muslim                             3,152,070                                 47,293                      3,199,363
Sikh                               394,009                                        –                           394,009
Other                               844,304                                 63,058                         907,362
None + Not Stated                           18,462,123                             1,261,152                    19,723,275
Total                           56,230,674                             3,156,032                    59,386,706

Number of religious hate crimes recorded by the police

The UK Government reports the data: “In April 2016, the Home Office began collecting information from the police on the perceived religion of victims of religious hate crime. By perceived, we mean the religion targeted by the offender. While in the majority of offences the perceived and actual religion of the victim will be the same, in some cases this will differ. For example, if anti-Muslim graffiti is sprayed on a religious temple of another faith, this would be recorded as an offence of racially or religiously aggravated criminal damage and flagged by the respective police force as a religious hate crime against Muslims.”

No religion70

Religious Hate Crimes Per Capita of Religion

We then take the number crimes (as target) and divide that by the number of adherents of each religion – and then multiply the result by one million to see how many hate crimes are committed against each religious group per million religious adherents.

ReligionHate crimes per million religious adherents
Christian                              15.8
Buddhist                              72.2
Hindu                            117.6
Jewish                         4,234.2
Muslim                            965.5
Sikh                            512.7
Other                            476.1

Each of the above tables are available as a Google Sheet online here (including the calculations as described above).