Hate crimes were down in 2015 but police saw spike in incidents targeting Muslims
'Trend may be attributed to negative backlash' following Paris attacks, Syrian refugee resettlement: police
Hate crimes in Toronto fell by about eight per cent in 2015 compared with the year before, but police found a spike in incidents targeting Muslims following the Paris attacks and the announcement that Syrian refugees would be settling in the city.
According to a report put before the Toronto Police Services Board meeting Thursday, the number of reported hate or bias crimes fell from 146 in 2014 to 134 in 2015, representing an 8.2 per cent decrease overall.
But police said they noted an increase in incidents targeting the Muslim community, specifically in November, when it was announced that the federal government planned to resettle 25,000 Syrian refugees.
"This trend may be attributed to negative backlash following the attacks in Paris, France and the government's refugee resettlement plan," the report said.
Many factors can affect the number of hate crimes in a given year and the specific groups that are victimized, the report stated. These can include international events, hate-crime training and increased reporting.
In 2015, the Jewish community faced the highest number of hate-related offences, followed by the LGBTQ community and Muslims.
The three most-reported hate crimes in 2015 were mischief to property, assault and criminal harassment. The Jewish community was the most victimized group for property-related incidents; the LGBTQ community suffered the highest number of assaults; while Muslims faced the greatest number of incidents related to criminal harassment.
"I think we have work to do in our society, making sure we put into action the values that we talk and brag a lot about," Toronto Mayor John Tory said following the board meeting.
"I don't think this is a job for the police. I think this is a job for each and every one of us as citizens. We have to better inform ourselves, we have to avoid what often happens, which is a rush to judgment about people based on their religion. I think that is true in recent times in the case of the Muslim faith."
Arrests related to the incidents also fell slightly from 22 to 19 in 2015.
The Toronto police Hate Crimes Unit has collected statistics on hate or bias-related incidents since 1993. Its annual report provides statistics about criminal offences committed against people or property motivated by a victim's race, national or ethnic origin, language, colour, religion, sex, age, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation or other such factors.
The 2015 report's figures were based on hate or bias crimes reported to Toronto police between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2015.