Hate crimes in England and Wales have risen by 18%, Home Office figures have suggested.
Police recorded 52,528 hate crimes in 2014-15, up from 44,471 in 2013-14, with more than 80% being racially motivated, the statistics showed.
The figures are in contrast to evidence from the annual crime survey which suggests hate crime has fallen by 28% over the last seven years.
David Cameron said the increase was "unacceptable".
The Home Office said "likely factors" in the increase included improved recording of crime, a greater awareness of hate crime and an improved willingness of victims to come forward.
Figures from the Crime Survey for England and Wales suggest there were an estimated 222,000 hate crimes on average per year based on data collected between 2012-13 to 2014-15 down from 307,000 incidents between 2007 to 2009.
It comes as Mr Cameron announced that anti-Muslim hate crimes will be recorded as a separate category by all police forces in England and Wales.
The headline figure for hate crime looks really grim, but delve deeper into the statistics and you'll find something else going on.
Police can only record what they know about, so to truly understand hate crime you have to also look at the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) - the internationally respected rolling programme of interviews with ordinary people.
The CSEW is not without its statistical limitations, but it casts its net far wider than the police and it reports that hate crime has fallen by 28% over the last seven years.
So while the prime minister has tweeted that rising hate crime is unacceptable, it's almost certain that police figures are up because more people are reporting it.
In other words, it is very difficult to argue that we are becoming a nastier nation when the evidence indicates we're becoming increasingly intolerant of hate crime.
Commenting on the Home Office figures, Mr Cameron tweeted: "Rising hate crime is unacceptable - we must do more to fight it which is why we will make sure police record anti-Muslim attacks."
Hate crime is defined as an offence which is perceived to be motivated by hostility or prejudice towards someone based on a personal characteristic.
Karen Bradley, minister for preventing abuse and exploitation, said this type of crime was "absolutely abhorrent".
"This government will do everything to eradicate them," she said.
"The increase in recorded hate crime shows that more victims have the confidence to come forward and that the police are improving the way they identify and record hate crimes. We welcome this."
But shadow policing minister Jack Dromey said police cuts were adding to the problem.
"These shocking figures are a fresh warning against the reckless hollowing out of neighbourhood policing... When it comes to hate crime, the role of neighbourhood police is crucial not only in preventing these crimes happening in the first place, but in supporting victims and the most vulnerable."
Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton, the National Police Chiefs' Council lead for hate crime, said: "The police are working hard to reduce its impact by listening to victims and supporting the most vulnerable, however, it is also vital that communities and partner agencies come together to challenge hatred wherever they see it."
By Dominic Casciani, BBC Home Affairs correspondent
From the BBC - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-34515763