Hate crime reports up, arrests down in 2016, Toronto police say

Shooting believed to be targeted shatters window at Planet Fitness gym in Toronto

Toronto police say there was an eight per cent increase in the number of reported hate and bias crimes in 2016, compared with 2015, though the number of arrests have decreased in the same period of time. 

- 2016: 145 cases; 11 arrests

- 2015: 134 cases; 19 arrests

- 2014: 146 cases; 22 arrests

In its annual report, police said the lack of arrests can be attributed to the lack of suspect descriptions as the victims or witnesses were not around during the incidents, mostly in the cases of mischief to property. 

"We're starting those investigations not knowing who exactly we're looking for," said Toronto Police spokesperson Meaghan Gray. "I don't think the number of arrests made necessarily reflects our efforts at solving them." 

The president of the Urban Alliance on Race Relations tells CBC Toronto many hate crimes are not reported. 

"We're very concerned about the number," said Nigel Barriffe. "We're made aware of the daily transgressions that happen and people are afraid to go to the police. We need to call out these hate crimes as they are."

He is also calling for stronger legislation.

"We need the political leadership that stands up and says it's not okay, then back it up with legislation that give the tools that police need to lay charges and get convictions for these hate crimes," he said. 

In 2016, the most victimized groups were the Jewish, LGBT, black and Muslim communities.