07 October 2016
Article by Megan Jones, National Assembly for Wales Research Service
On Tuesday (11 October 2016), Assembly Members will debate the progress made, and challenges still remaining, in tackling hate crime in Wales.
Statistics published by the UK Home Office (see table below) in October 2015, show a substantial increase in recorded hate crimes across Wales in 2014-15 compared to 2013-14 (appendix table 1.02). There were 2,259 recorded offences across the four Welsh Police Force Areas in 2014-15, compared to 1,877 in 2013-14.
The Welsh Government’s Tackling Hate Crimes and Incidents: Framework for Action 2015-16 Progress Report suggests that the increase in recorded hate crime offences could be viewed as a positive indicator, attributable to better awareness and a greater accuracy in recording. However, any increase in hate crime remains concerning, especially in light of the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance’s latest report on the UK, which highlighted a number of areas of concern. The report found that ‘there continues to be considerable intolerant political discourse focusing on immigration and contributing to an increase in xenophobic sentiments’.
According to the Welsh Government (page 2), evidence still suggests that approximately 50% of hate crimes remain unreported.
Defining hate crime
The Association of Chief Police Officers and the Crown Prosecution Service have agreed a common definition of hate crime:
- A hate crime is defined as: ‘A 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 or perceived race; religion or perceived religion; sexual orientation or perceived sexual orientation; disability or perceived disability and any crime motivated by hostility or prejudice against a person who is transgender or perceived to be transgender’.
- A hate incident is: ‘Any non-crime incident which is perceived by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by hostility or prejudice based on a person’s race or perceived race; religion or perceived religion; sexual orientation or perceived sexual orientation; disability or perceived disability and any crime motivated by hostility or prejudice against a person who is transgender or perceived to be transgender’.
Hate crime is currently recorded and monitored by police forces across the protected characteristics of disability, race, religion/ belief, sexual orientation and gender identity, although people may experience hate crime due to other characteristics. Some people may experience hate crimes and incidents because of a combination of more than one identifying factor, such as their race and disability. A victim of a hate crime or a hate incident does not, necessarily, have to belong to any of the above protected characteristics, but is perceived to do so by the perpetrator.
Tackling Hate Crimes and Incidents – A Framework for Action
In May 2014 the Welsh Government published Tackling Hate Crimes and Incidents – A Framework for Action. This framework’s success is measured against a high-level outcome:
Individuals and communities are enabled to be resilient, cohesive and safe to tackle hate incidents and crimes.
This high-level outcome is supported by three strategic objectives:
- Prevention – by challenging the attitudes that underpin it, raising awareness, early intervention to prevent it escalating, training organisations and using the specific equality objectives to work with Public Sector Organisations;
- Supporting Victims – by increasing reporting levels, encouraging the further development of third party reporting, enhancing safety and wellbeing, and exploring quality support to victims; and
- Improving the Multi-agency Response – by exploring relevant data and barriers to sharing information, increasing multi-agency working, and tackling the motivations of offenders.
Annual Delivery Plan
Following the publication of the framework, the Welsh Government started producing an Annual Delivery Plan which contains specific actions to implement the framework’s three strategic objectives. These actions are grouped into eight delivery areas:
- Tackling hate-related bullying and promoting respect;
- Promoting inclusion and resilience;
- Promoting equality and good relations;
- Training and awareness in service delivery;
- Increased reporting of hate crimes and incidents;
- Increased support for victims;
- Improving the partnership approach; and
- Tackling perpetrators.
The Welsh Government’s annual Progress Report shows the progress made towards implementing the framework’s three strategic objectives. The actions taken are also grouped under the eight delivery areas.
The 2015-16 Progress Report provides an update on the action taken to tackle hate crime, including work undertaken in schools and with families, Hate Crime Awareness training sessions provided, campaigns organised in conjunction with other organisations, such as Show Racism the Red Card and participating in events, such as Hate Crime Awareness Week.