On Tuesday (17 October 2017), Assembly Members will debate the progress made, and challenges still remaining, in tackling hate crime in Wales.
Statistics published by the UK Home Office (table 2.01) in October 2016, show an increase in recorded hate crimes across Wales in 2015-16 compared to 2014-15 (appendix table 2.01). There were 2,405 recorded hate crimes across the four Welsh Police Force Areas in 2015-16, compared to 2,259 in 2014-15, and increase of over 6%.
The Office of National Statistics has attributed recent increases in some categories of police recorded crime to improvements in police recording, rather than an actual increase in offences.
Meanwhile, the UK Government believes that a greater awareness of hate crime, along with the improved willingness of victims to come forward, is likely to have been a factor in the increase in hate crimes recorded by the police in 2015-16, compared with the previous year.
As the figures published by the Home Office cover hate crimes recorded by the police between 1 April 2015 and 31 March 2016, the number of offences will not be affected by any increase in hate crime following the EU Referendum on 23 June 2016.
However, following the EU referendum, the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) requested weekly returns from police forces across England, Wales and Northern Ireland to measure the level of hate crime. This data showed a sharp increase in hate crime in July, with the number of racially or religiously aggravated offences recorded by the police in July 2016 being 41% higher than in July 2015. The number of hate crimes recorded in August declined to a level seen earlier in 2016, but remained higher than the figures in 2015. Figures compiled by the Press Association show that between July and September 2016, all Welsh police forces experienced an increase in recorded hate crime offences:
- Dyfed-Powys recorded 35 offences, an increase of 52%;
- Gwent recorded 77 offences, an increase of 22%;
- North Wales recorded 56 offences, an increase of 22%; and
- South Wales recorded 276 offences, an increase of 10%.
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:
- Religion/ belief;
- Sexual orientation; and
- Gender identity.
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, such as funding the All Wales Schools Liaison Core Programme and funding an additional 500 Community Support Officers, 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 also publishes an annual Progress Report, showing the progress made towards implementing the framework’s three strategic objectives. The actions taken are also grouped under the eight delivery areas. The 2016-17 Progress Report provides an update on the action taken to tackle hate crime, including:
- Work undertaken in schools and with families, including protecting the investment in 500 Welsh Government funded Community Support Officers for 2017-18, and commissioning a 12 month PR and marketing campaign to raise awareness of the anti-bullying agenda;
- Hate Crime Awareness training sessions provided, including 48 sessions delivered across Wales by Victim Support; and
- Campaigns to raise awareness of hate crime organised to coincide with other events, such as Hate Crime Awareness Week, Black History Month, and Interfaith Week.
Article by Megan Jones, National Assembly for Wales Research Service
Source: United Kingdom and European Union flags by Dave Kellam. Licensed under the Creative Commons.