Barbara has expressed concern at the high number of antisemitic incidents recorded recently in the Greater Manchester area.
In 2006, Barbara was a member of the All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Antisemitism, which visited Manchester to hear evidence from the local Jewish community. The inquiry panel produced a comprehensive report, and made a number of recommendations including improved reporting and recording of antisemitic attacks; a crackdown on anti-Jewish activity on university campuses; and improved international co-operation to prevent the spread of racist material online.
In their most recent report, the Community Safety Trust (CST) recorded 594 antisemitic incidents across the UK in 2006, an increase of 31% on 2005 figures, and the highest total since records began started in 1984. The second highest number of incidents were recorded in Greater Manchester - in 2006, 144 incidents were recorded, an increase of 9% on 2005 figures. All of these incidents took place in the Salford, Bury, Manchester and Trafford areas, and the figures constituted 24% of the national total, despite the fact that the Jewish community in Manchester makes up around 10% of the UK Jewish population.
These incidents include physical assault, verbal abuse, circulation of antisemitic literature, and damage to property.
Commenting on the new figures, Barbara Keeley said:
“These new figures make alarming reading even though we know that levels of antisemitic hate crime have doubled in the past ten years. Greater Manchester has a substantial Jewish community and the police in Greater Manchester have a good track record of reporting and tracking incidents. However, the number of hate attacks is high and a cause for concern
"These figures are based on incidents reported to local Jewish organisations, and to the Community Security Trust and many of the reports result in Police action. Clearly, more still needs to be done, both in terms of education and of enforcement, to send out a clear message that such behaviour will not be tolerated in Greater Manchester”.
Commenting on the figures in the House of Commons on Wednesday, the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, said:
“I am grateful for the all-party parliamentary group’s report on anti-Semitism and for the data compiled by the Community Security Trust, which show that there have been about 600 anti-Semitic race hate incidents. We are determined to do everything we can to stamp out this form of race hate, not only in respect of Jewish people but in respect of any members of our community.
"The announcement today by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government of a £5 million package, which will help us to combat extremism in local communities, will do something to help in that regard, but I think that a strong signal from the entire House of our abhorrence of any anti-Semitism or race hate crimes will be very welcome indeed.”