It’s an emotive word “Hate” and coupled with “Crime” it becomes serious. And actually, it is indeed very serious. At the least it’s bullying and worse it can become physical (over 50% of Hate Crimes are). hate Crime can also be predicted; this Home Office paper shows interesting reading. Especially page 6 where the graph shows peaks after the EU Referendum result and the Westminster Bridge attack.
This week is Hate Crime Awareness week so we took the opportunity to launch a joint initiative with the Police and Crime Commissioner for Hampshire and the Isle of Wight to establish Local Citizens Advice offices as independent reporting centres for victims of Hate Crime.
The commissioner (who, for a while was a trustee for a local office) is fully supportive of not only the reporting centres but Citizens Advice as a service.
Between April and September this year, 1,533 hate crimes were reported to Hampshire Police, compared with 1,231 incidents in the same period last year (+24.5%). Despite this increase, hate crime remains widely under reported. Not all victims are comfortable with reporting their experiences directly to the police. Some victims may find visiting police stations intimidating or daunting, some may not be aware of alternative ways of reporting, or they fear being outed in terms of their sexuality or disability.
So I am really pleased that Citizens Advice are offering Third party reporting centres to overcome these barriers by providing an alternative way to report a hate crime. Being a reporting centre fits neatly with the service offered by Citizens Advice in that we already give confidential advice, independent from the Criminal Justice System. Victims can remain anonymous if they wish and don’t need to have contact with the police if they don’t want to.
The Commissioner and the acting Deputy Commissioner Flick Drummond paid a visit to Winchester Citizens Advice. The Commissioner met staff and volunteers to talk about third party reporting centres and the wider issues Local Citizens Advice face.
Also this week I attended a Hate Crime Awareness event in Portsmouth, at Southsea Fire Station. At the event (hosted by the Police) Portsmouth University talked about a Hate Crime questionnaire they are using to scope incidents with their students and a short video was shown created by students from a Portsmouth School. They have not only developed the video but have plans to visit every school in the city to raise awareness about Hate Crime. It’s so great to see young people getting involved in such an important area. My hope is that the work we are now doing on Hate Crime will help our clients feel safer and stronger to face life’s challenges.