THE number of anti-Semitic hate crimes reported across the county rose last year.

Jewish safety charity the Community Security Trust (CST) received reports of 21 incidents in 2019.

These included 17 incidents of abusive behaviour, two assaults, one incident of damage or desecration of Jewish property and one report of threats.

The trust said the number of incidents – especially those reported online – are only indicative and likely to understate the scale of the problem.

Nationwide, the highest monthly totals were in February and December during times which saw “prominent and intense debate over allegations of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party”, the charity claimed.

CST chief executive David Delew said: “It is clear that both social media and mainstream politics are places where anti-Semitism and racism need to be driven out, if things are to improve in the future.”

Board of Deputies of British Jews president Marie van der Zyl said the findings were “profoundly depressing”.

She added: “No doubt the ongoing anti-Semitism crisis in the Labour Party has had an effect on the figures and they will cause great anxiety to Jews in this country.

“Overall it must be emphasised that Britain remains a happy place for its Jewish community.

“However, we call on the country’s political leaders – in all parties – to fight the evil of anti-Jewish racism and make this a just, safe and respectful society for everyone.”

Home Secretary Priti Patel –who is also the MP for Witham – described the findings as “appalling”.

“I am pushing for greater collaboration, both across government, policing, the courts and community groups, to remove this shameful stain on our society,” she added.

A Labour Party spokesman said: “It is deeply distressing that anti-Semitism is rising in our society and other countries.

“Anti-Semitism has no place in the Labour Party and we are taking more decisive action than ever before, and more than any other political party, to root out this bigotry and racism.”

“We thank the trust for the vital work it does.”

Last year, Essex University sacked a computer science lecturer over claims he posted anti-Semitic material on Facebook.

Dr Maaruf Ali allegedly wrote “the Zionist next want to create a society here at our university.”

It came as a bid to create a Jewish society on campus was initially blocked when 200 students voted against it.

However, the voting was then deemed void, a re-run was cancelled and the society then automatically ratified.

Posts also appeared to have been shared from the account which appeared to deny the Holocaust. They were later deleted.

A review by the university showed some Jewish students and staff felt “intimidated and frightened” as a result of anti-Semitism.

University bosses were given 33 recommendations to implement and agreed additional work should be done to tackle all discrimination.