What is a hate crime?
Hate crime can take a number of different forms. Not only can the victim’s minority status vary from Muslim, homosexual, Jewish and more, but the action that constitutes the crime can mean a lot of different things. The Crown Prosecution Service and the Association of Chief Police Officers have an agreement the definition of hate crime is:
Any criminal offence which is perceived by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by hostility or prejudice based on a person’s race; religion or perceived religion; sexual orientation or perceived sexual orientation; disability or perceived disability or…transgender or perceived to be transgender.
It is worth noting that although this includes physical violence and damage to property, it also includes hate speech as described by the Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006, which has since been updated to include sexual orientation and gender. Ultimately, a hate crime could mean anything from a group of people assaulting a homosexual person in the street, to the vandalism of a Mosque, to the concerted bullying of a person of Jewish faith on public transport.
What should you do?
If you witness a hate crime there are certain things you should bear in mind. Confronting the perpetrator is a bad idea. The Institute for Strategic Dialogue notes that this can be ‘difficult and risky’ and that ‘it is best to leave the one-to-one engagement with far right individuals to those who are trained and experienced in doing this’. Furthermore, Neil Chakraborti, the director of the Leicester Centre for Hate Studies suggests that you ‘don’t put yourself in any danger’. This advice is echoed by the South Wales Police. Groups such as Blood & Honour, Combat 18 and the British Movement are all active within the South Wales area. They are potentially dangerous and it is very unlikely that challenging their actions will yield a positive impact.
The important question, then, is what should you do? Chakraborti says that ‘you’ve got to rely on your moral compass: what can you do? Can you intervene? [if not,] tell a bus driver or a guard on the tube? Can you just put your arm around someone and ask if they’re all right and get them a glass of water? It might sound trivial but just that act of kindness can make someone feel less alone.’ There are many different safe ways in which you can act, either in the moment or directly after, that can help the victim feel safe and welcome in your community. However, if you do nothing, it sends the firm message that you are not willing to give such assurances.
Regardless of how you act in the moment, by far and away the most important way that you can help is to report the hate crime. Differing reports suggest that the number of hate crimes reported compared to those actually committed is anywhere from 25% to 50%. Simply put, if the police do not know about these incidents then they cannot do anything about it. Furthermore, if you witness a hate crime then you can add weight to the victim’s testimonial if they report it. You may be unsure if what you have witnessed constitutes a hate crime, yet there will be people that you can talk it through with who will take you seriously. Citizen’s Advice notes that ‘it’s important to keep in mind that when some hate crimes start as smaller incidents which incidents which may escalate into more serious and frequent attacks – so it’s always best to act early.
How can you report it?
There are a number of ways in which you can report a hate crime. First and foremost, if it is an emergency then you must call ‘999’ – it could be the difference between somebody ending up in hospital or not. However, if it is a non-urgent, you should call ‘101’, where you can speak to a member of South Wales Police 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If you do not wish to talk directly to the police, you can report hate crime on True Vision (http://report-it.org.uk/), which acts as a third party mediator. You can also call Crimestoppers on 0800 555111 or visit their website (https://crimestoppers-uk.org/). Finally, you can submit a report of hate crime to other third parties such as TellMAMA (this is specific for Muslim hate crimes – http://tellmamauk.org/).
There are several avenues in which you can report a hate crime and there is a dire need for more reporting of these incidents. It is the only way in which we can move towards a community where any person of any race, religion, gender, or sexuality can feel welcome. Remember, we cannot do everything, but we must not do nothing.