In this guest blog, former CEO of Byker Community Trust HA, Jill Haley BA FCIH, argues that we must tackle hate crime head on if we truly intend to embrace equality, diversity and inclusion.
We must tackle hate crime head on if we truly intend to embrace equality, diversity and inclusion.
While we are all working hard to eradicate prejudice and discrimination, to ensure fair treatment and opportunity for all, hate crime is increasing and the crimes which are actually reported, are only the tip of the iceberg.
In the year ending March 2021, 124,091 hate crimes were recorded by the police in England and Wales; of which there were 92,052 race hate crimes, 6,377 religious hate crimes, 18,596 sexual orientation hate crimes, 9,943 disability hate crimes and 2,799 transgender hate crimes. This was a 9% increase compared with the previous year, despite Coronavirus lockdown restrictions.
At a basic level, our human right is to be born free, with equal rights and dignity. We live in a multicultural and diverse society, that values tolerance and individual liberty. Everyone has the right to be treated with respect no matter how we choose to live our lives.
In the UK we have a legal framework that promotes equality and fairness in society and access to justice to uphold our rights. The problem, however, is that hate crimes persist despite this framework, undermining basic human rights and creating divisions in society.
What is Hate Crime?
Hate crime is defined as ‘any criminal offence which is perceived, by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by hostility or prejudice towards someone based on a personal characteristic’. There are five centrally monitored strands:
As well the five strands, a category of ‘Other’ hate crimes covers hostility/abuse directed towards age, gender, caste or ‘Alternative Sub-culture’, based on their own characteristics; for example the 2007 murder of 20-year-old Goth, Sophie Lancaster in Lancashire.
The Legal Framework
Hate crime can be committed against a person or property and there is no single piece of legislation criminalising hate crime. Instead, there are three different ways in which the law deals with hate crime:
- aggravated forms of certain “basic” offences – such as assault or criminal damage – motivated by hatred on the grounds of race or religion
- enhanced sentences for offenders who were motivated by hatred on the grounds of race, religion, disability, sexual orientation or transgender status
- offences of stirring up hatred based on race, religion or sexual orientation
The Crown Prosecution Service website provides detailed guidance on the legislation via their hate crime page.
The importance of reporting incidents and the effects of Hate Crime
Hate incidents can feel like crimes to those who suffer them; people can be subjected to verbal, physical and psychological abuse, leaving them scared, isolated and at risk of mental ill health. Some incidents may even escalate to crimes or tension within a community, where they can have a devastating impact.
The police ask people who experience or witness hate incidents to report them on every occasion. By reporting incidents, you may be able to prevent them from happening to someone else. You will also help the police to understand the extent of hate crime in your local area.
Help to stop Hate Crime by:
- Hosting training and raising awareness activities which can become the catalyst for further conversations.
- Challenging and changing the behaviours, narratives and perceptions of hate crime in the workplace and in our communities.
- Introducing and promoting communication campaigns to staff and service users that signpost and educate about hate crime.
- Encouraging and increasing the reporting of hate incidents to the police by widely publishing local police contacts, numbers etc.
- Introducing specific policies and procedures to support victims and witnesses of hate crime.
How to report Hate Crimes
If you experience, witness or become aware of any hate crime, report it immediately to your local police force by dialling 101 or 999.
You can also report hate crime to the National Online Hate Crime Hub, where a team of specialist officers will respond to online hate crimes.
This article will be updated to focus on the role social landlords in the next issues of CT Brief out in September.
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