LGBT advocates warn that FBI hate crime stats may be skewed by underreporting
Critics have suggested that hate crime numbers published by the FBI last month could have been skewed by underreporting of crimes.
An annual report from the FBI last month showed the numbers of hate crimes against minorities across the US.
But critics of the report have suggested that the figures are skewed as law enforcment agencies voluntarily report hate crime figures to the FBI.
Groups called for hate crime reporting to become mandatory.
“FBI hate crime data represents the tip of the iceberg and understates the magnitude of hate crime in America,” said Sim J. Singh, national advocacy manager of The Sikh Coalition, a nonprofit.
“The only way to bridge the data gap is for law enforcement agencies to adopt mandatory hate crime reporting.”
In a news release the FBI said that out of 15,254 law enforcment agencies, only 1,776 of them reported one or more incidents, representing 12 percent.
All other agencies reported zero hate crimes occurring within their jurisdictions.
“We know there are multiple jurisdictions year-in and year-out that don’t report or report zero hate crimes to the FBI,” Marita Etcubanez, director of strategic initiatives for Asian Americans Advancing Justice-AAJC, said.
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The FBI has since said it does not comment on or provide analysis of statistics in the hate crime report.
There was roughly a 5 percent increase in hate crime incidents for 2016 compared to the year before.
This lines up with a Bureau of Justice Statistics survey from June which found that between 2004 and 2015, each year in average, there were around 250,000 hate crime victimisations.
54 percent of hate crime victimisations were not reported to police, the survey found, and that many were handled separately.