No.604 | October 2016
No place for hate crime
by Cllr Simon Blackburn, Chair of LGA’s Safer and Stronger Communities Board
Councils are best placed to tackle the challenges posed by reported increases in hate crime
National Hate Crime Awareness Week 2016 [08-15 October] is all the more relevant this year. Hate crime report to the police in the last 2 years of July were 49% on the same period in 2015.
The charity Stop Hate UK – which organises the awareness week – saw a 60% increase in reports in late June and referred 40% more cases to the police. Racially-motivated reports more than doubledd.
Incidents included xenophobic graffiti [for example on the Polish Social and Cultural Association in Hammersmith], arson against a Polish family in Devon, anti-immigation cards distributed outside a primary school, physical assaults and verbal abuse.
Although attacks are perpetrated by a tiny minority – the local community in Hammersmith was quick to offer the Polish Centre sympathy and moral support – both David Cameron and his successor as Prime Minister, Theresa May, have spoken of the need to tackle hate crime, and the Government has published a fresh action plan – Action Against Hate: The UK Goverment’s plan to tackling hate crime [26 July 2016].
Local government has a vital role in building community cohesion and combating extremism. The impact of hate incidents and crimes on both individuals and local areas is far-reaching. Victims are more likely to suffer serious and longer lasting damage when they have been targeted in this way, and the anxiety and tension this causes can permeate entire communities.
As soon as it became that we were facing an increase in incidents, the LGA provided a collection of documents and links on our website [see Community Cohesion and Hate Crime resource]. The page contains useful contacts, guidance, case studies, toolkits and other resources.
Councils are already doing much to combat hate crime.
For example, Essex has established a Strategic Hate Crime Prevention Partnership, bringing together schools, police and voluntary organisations, and using social media to encourage reporting and deliver sessions to schoolchildren.
Birmingham City Council has created a faith map to show the contribution faiths make to life in the city.
Tower Hamlets has a No Place for Hate Forum which brings together the council and key agencies to co-ordinate responses to race and hate crime.
Manchester has worked closely with voluntary and community partners, including housing providers, to establish reporting centres across the city. Each organisation has received training and signed up to a set of standards that support them to deal with incidents.
And Derbyshire has organised hate crime awareness training for staff, partner agencies, housing providers, third sector organisations, and police, probation and fire & rescue services.
Every community is different, and councils are best placed to tackle the challenges each faces. A great deal of good work is being done by the sector, and National Hate Crime Awareness Week offers us an opportunity to promote it and encourage our communities.
Stop Hate UK: Hate crime reporting post-Brexit