International and domestic events as well as a police campaign against hate speech may all be factors in the apparent increase in reports, according to a National Police press release.
While 2018 saw as many as 449 cases of hate speech reported to police, the figure increased to 569 in 2019.
The increase primarily consists of complaints of hate crime related to race or religion, while those related to sexual orientation are generally unchanged compared to previous years, according to the national police.
Although more instances were reported, the number of hate crimes actually committed has not necessarily gone up, head of national police Thorkild Fogde said.
“We cannot say for certain what has caused the increase but we can assert that we saw an increase in the wake of a campaign at the end of 2019 in which we encouraged those subjected to or witnesses of hate crimes to contact the police,” Fogde said.
“We have previously said that this is an area with undetected cases and I hope this increase reflects a drop in undetected cases because more people have become aware of what a hate crime is and because more are reporting instances to the police,” he noted.
“But it is clear that an increase by almost 27 percent is remarkable and something we must take very seriously,” he noted.
The minister of justice, Nick Hækkerup, said the government is prepared to take measures to reduce hate crimes.
“Nobody in Denmark should be assaulted or harassed because of something like their religion or sexuality,” Hækkerup said in the statement.
The government has in recent months “been in dialogue with a number of key actors in this area, and later in the year we will announce a number of measures related to hate crimes,” he said.
Peter Steffensen, a senior officer in acting charge of the National Police’s centre for prevention of hate crimes (Rigspolitiets Nationale Forebyggelsescenter) said the high number of complaints had the positive effect of increasing police understanding of hate crimes.
“Because there are more reports, a clearer picture is formed of how hate crimes are distributed across motive categories and crime types,” Steffensen said in the press release.
“For example, we can see a trend whereby violent hate crime is most widespread in cases related to sexual orientation, while a large proportion of religiously motivated hate crime takes place online. This is important and useful knowledge,” he said.
“It’s not certain that we can always find the culprit in individual cases, but the more reports we get, the better the impression we can get of whether, for example, many hate crimes take place in a certain group or certain environment, and we can adapt our preventative efforts and patrols accordingly,” he added.
In 2019, 143 charges were brought in hate crime 120 cases against 117 people. The previous year saw84 charges against 101 people.