The federal government is on track to record nearly 7,600 hate crimes in the first six months of this year, according to data released Thursday.
That is up from 6,000 hate crimes recorded in the six months ended in March, the data shows.
While the number of recorded hate crimes is expected to rise, the number recorded each month is still a relatively small number compared with the number committed by the police, said Jennifer Delaney, a criminology professor at the University of Ottawa.
She said it is difficult to determine how many hate crime offences are committed because police have a hard time capturing such behaviour, which is often disguised as anti-bullying or anti-harassment.
“The numbers don’t tell the whole story,” Delaney said.
She added that it is not clear whether the spike in hate crimes reflects a greater understanding of hate crimes and the importance of reporting them to the police.
Delaney also noted that police departments across Canada have struggled to keep up with the influx of hate crime complaints.
“It’s very challenging to get a handle on these numbers because they are often not captured by the public,” she said.
“There are a lot of anecdotal and public information reports that we get, but that is very difficult to track.”
The latest statistics were released as the federal government announced it will begin recording hate crimes with data provided by a provincial police service in British Columbia, which will be used to compile hate crime data from across the country.
The data will be released as part of the federal response to the wave of attacks targeting people of Asian and Pacific Islander descent and others in the aftermath of the killing of Canadian citizen Anjem Choudary, in a New York subway.
Choudary was shot in the back in February after he had been protesting a speech by US President Donald Trump, who has criticized the treatment of Muslims in Canada.
The government has said it wants to record hate crime crimes as quickly as possible, and to be able to share the data with the provinces and territories.
The federal government also announced it would offer $25,000 to help police departments respond to hate crime incidents.
The numbers are expected to help crack down on hate crimes by giving them a clear definition, a timeline and a way to track how hate crimes are reported, said Carolyn Bennett, director of the Centre for Law and Social Policy at the Toronto-based University of Toronto.
“This is going to make it easier for us to understand what is happening, how we can prevent it,” Bennett said.