Crime and Religion

Muslims are the faith group most likely to report an experience of religiously-motivated crime during the previous twelve months, but they are less likely to be victims of crime in general than those professing no religion. 

This is according to a new report from the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), and based on secondary analysis (by researchers at the University of Lancaster) of a merged dataset of the British Crime Survey (BCS) for England and Wales for 2007-08, 2008-09 and 2009-10, comprising 137,907 adults aged 16 and over.

Written by Sue Botcherby, Fiona Glen, Paul Iganski, Karen Jochelson and Spyridoula Lagou, Equality Groups’ Perceptions and Experience of Crime (EHRC, 2011) is available to download from:

The proportion reporting being a victim of crime during the year prior to interview was 28% among people of no religion, against 25% of Muslims and 21% of both Christians and Hindus.

However, the number experiencing crime in the previous twelve months and attributing it to a religious motivation was highest for Muslims (8%), almost twenty times more than for Christians who were the subject of crime, albeit lower than the 15% of Asians identifying their experience of crime as caused by ethnic prejudice.

On the other hand, Muslims (2%) were slightly less likely to have encountered deliberate force or violence being used against them over the past year than Christians and Hindus, and much less likely than those without religion (4%).

A similar, but smaller, differential between Muslims and those professing no religion was found in respect of threats to damage property or to use force or violence, causing the victim to become frightened.

At the same time, 45% of Muslims were very or fairly worried about being insulted or pestered by somebody while in a public place, 3% fewer than Hindus but more than Christians (29%) and the irreligious (26%).

Somewhat less actually expected to be harassed or intimidated in a public place during the next year: 34% of Muslims, 29% of Hindus, 23% of persons with no religion, and 19% of Christians.

The Muslim findings are perhaps unsurprising, given the extent of Islamophobia in Britain, and they are consistent with other analyses of BCS data, for example by the Universities’ Police Science Institute at Cardiff University, already featured on BRIN at: 

The greater exposure of the irreligious to crime in general and to incidents involving violence is interesting but hard to explain solely on the basis of this report, which utilizes bivariate analyses only rather than multivariate techniques.


Breakdowns by faith groups other than those mentioned above derived from insufficiently large cell sizes for the statistics to be meaningful.


British Religion in Numbers: All the material published on this website is subject to copyright. We explain further here.

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