Charity worker Thomas Godwin has told BBC News that the failure of Devon and Cornwall Police to deal adequately with a sustained campaign of antisemitic abuse against him has left him feeling scared and vulnerable in his own home.
Mr Godwin, a resident of Tavistock in Devon, first contacted Campaign Against Antisemitism for help five months ago, after losing confidence in the ability of his local police force to keep him safe from antisemites who were repeatedly intimidating and threatening him. After he reported them to the police, a letter was sent anonymously to his place of work. It read, “We warning you Jew scum [sic] Stop talking to the pigs or else”, using the slang term for the police. The police did not collect this evidence of an antisemitic threat for two weeks, despite being aware that Mr Godwin was already being victimised for being Jewish.
In an emotional televised interview with BBC South West, Mr Godwin detailed the multiple failures of the investigation into this crime. Devon and Cornwall Police told him that a prosecution might not be in the public interest and attempted to pressure him into agreeing to mediation, which would have required him to sit down with people who have made it clear that they hate him for being Jewish. Mr Godwin also told the BBC that the police have not confronted the people he believes to be behind this antisemitic hate crime, choosing instead to make him feel as though he is the problem by telling him to take down the CCTV cameras he installed at his home for his security and advising him to move to another address.
Antisemitism has now reached a level unheard of since the end of the Second World War. Outside the UK, threats against Jewish people have translated into physical attacks and even murder. In this case, it appears that the police have completely failed to grasp the seriousness of the crime, and have sought to make the problem go away rather than ensure that the perpetrators feel the full force of the law. A senior officer with an understanding of antisemitic hate crime should now be appointed to carry out a thorough review of the way in which this investigation has been conducted.
In a statement issued to the BBC, Devon and Cornwall police said that “Local officers are also aware of and investigating a number of reports of harassment and anti-social behaviour; so far there has been insufficient evidence to progress these to the point of charge. All parties involved have been spoken to and offered mediation as a possible resolution.”
Campaign Against Antisemitism continues to provide support to Mr Godwin who has filed a professional standards complaint against the police officers involved.