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Hate Crime/Incidents during the Covid-19 Crisis

Published onApr 27, 2020
Hate Crime/Incidents during the Covid-19 Crisis

Following the first Covid-19 cases in Europe and North America, there have been reports of an increase in ethnic and race hate crime/incidents directed at individuals who are perceived to have an East Asian background[1].

On this page, I aim to collect data, news reports, and studies about ethnic and race hate crime/incidents during the Covid-19 crisis. I will focus initially on the UK and USA but hope to expand the information to other countries as well. This is very much work in progress (I aim to update the site as much as possible) and a community effort (I will share/link to ongoing and completed work by other researchers).

My own analyses

Hate Crime in London Following the First COVID-19 Case in the UK

To examine whether there has been an increase in ethnic and race hate crime since the outbreak of Covid-19 in the UK, I looked at data from the Metropolitan Police[2], taking into account all London boroughs. Keep in mind that the first Covid-19 case in the UK was reported on 31.01.20.

How was race hate crime defined in this analysis? In the hate crime and special crime dashboard of the Metropolitan Police aggregated data is available for ‘racist and religious hate crime’. This data summarises ‘race hate crime’, ‘anti-semitic hate crime’, ‘islamohobic hate crime’ and ‘faith hate crime’. Seperate date is only available for the latter three sub-categories, such that ‘race hate crime’ can be calculated by substracting ‘anti-semitic hate crime’, ‘islamohobic hate crime’ and ‘faith hate crime’ from ‘racist and religious hate crime’.

What does the data tell us so far? (‘So far’, because this data will have to be updated.)

Looking at the crime count trends over the last six months, we see that:

(1) Between November 2019 and January 2020 race crime dropped by almost 14%.

(2) Between January 2020, when the first Covid-19 case was reported in the UK, and March 2020 crime count increased (again) by 20%.

(3) Between March and April 2020, when strict lockdown measures were in place, race hate crime count was reduced by 21%.

Based on this data it is not yet possible to attribute the increase in race hate crime between January and March 2020 to the Covid-19 outbreak. Likewise, one can only speculate that social distancing measures lead to a reduction in hate crime (In fact, it seems like crime was displaced to social media patforms; see research below).

Longer trends need to be examined and statistical tests ought to be applied to understand the structure of the time-series - something that I will work on as new data becomes available. We are alsoin the process of launching two victimisation surveys to examine patterns and consequences of hate crime victimisation during Covid-19. I will provide more information about the data and results in the next weeks.

Research by others

Covid-19 and hate

He, He, Zhou, Nie, and He (2020): Discrimination and Social Exclusion in the Outbreak of COVID-19

Ng, (2020): The Pandemic of Hate Is Giving Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) a Helping Hand

Online hate crime

Schild, Ling, Blackburn, Stringhini, Zhang, and Zannettou (pre-print): “Go eat a bat, Chang!”: An Early Look on the Emergence of Sinophobic Behavior on Web Communities in the Face of COVID-19

Stechemesser, Wenz, and Levermann (2020): Corona crisis fuels racially profiled hate in social media networks

Disinformation (online)

Network Contagion Research Institute: Weaponized Information Outbreak: A Case Study on Covid-19, Bioweapon Myths, and the Asian Conspiracy Meme

Institute for Strategic Dialogue: Covid-19 Disinformation Briefings

News reports


The Rise of Corona Virus Hate Crime

Chinese people in UK targeted with abuse over coronavirus


Reports of Anti-Asian Assaults, Harassment and Hate Crimes Rise as Coronavirus Spreads

FBI concerned about potential for hate crimes during coronavirus pandemic

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