News and Comment

Greater Manchester Hate Crime Awareness Week 20-26 January 2014

Wednesday 22 January 2014

By:

Rose Simkins is Chief Executive of Stop Hate UK, a charity that provides independent and confidential support to people affected by Hate Crime.

It is the Greater Manchester Hate Crime Awareness Week this week. Stop Hate UK and OPM welcome the recognition and publicity Greater Manchester Police and Manchester City Council will be giving hate crime during their week of activity and awareness raising.

The publication of hate crime figures in 2012 led to sensationalist reports of Manchester being the ‘hate crime capital of England and Wales’. Yet, this overlooks the fact that a key contributory factor to the higher figures recorded for Manchester was the proactive approach adopted by the police to raise awareness and to encourage reporting. The Hate Crime Awareness Week signals the ongoing commitment of the police and local agencies to tackle hate crime.

It is important that hate crime is given a greater profile as many people are still suffering in silence and are not seeking the support and justice they deserve. A network of reporting centres is being expanded across Manchester at the start of hate crime awareness week.

Stop Hate UK is a national organisation working to provide support to victims of Hate Crime. Stop Hate UK provides the Stop Hate Line, a 24 hour helpline which operates in some areas of the UK, including Oldham and tenants and residents of Southway Homes for victims and witnesses to report all forms of Hate Crime and receive support; and Stop Learning Disability Hate Crime, a 24 hour reporting and support helpline for people in England and Wales.

Many other areas across the country are now concentrating their activities during the National Hate Crime Awareness week in October of each year, but here at Stop Hate UK every week is Hate Crime Awareness Week!

There are a number of factors that determine whether people decide to report a Hate Incident, and they include:

  • Trust
  • Previous bad experiences of reporting (either by themselves or another person- bad news travel fast)
  • Communication – knowledge of how to report

It is communication that helps us understand the number of reports in the past year about Alternative Sub Culture Hate Crime, something which Greater Manchester Police have taken the national lead on recording.

From April to December last year, there were 3,282 hate crimes committed in the region. Of those, 2,687 were race-related, 338 were against sexual orientation and 244 were religious hate crimes. There were 106 disability-based crimes, 35 against transgender people and 21 victimised Sub Cultures.

Can we honestly believe there were such small numbers in Alternative Sub Cultures and the other categories?

In attempting to understand this low level of hate crimes, it is important to note that these figures are for reported hate crimes only. Incidents reported to Stop Hate UK from across the country have been wide-ranging and include many different kinds of (sub)criminal offences and incidents.  Examples include physical assaults, sexual assaults, criminal damage and harassment, hate motivated anti-social behaviour, threatening behaviour and verbal abuse.  It is these latter two that are being most often reported to the helpline, and it is important for us all to recognise that hate crime can happen to anyone, at anytime and in any way. We must not dismiss these experiences as ‘trivial’ or ‘low level’, as the impact on victims and family members can be significant. Hate incidents can also easily escalate into hate crimes.

This Hate Crime Awareness Week will help us all to increase this understanding and awareness of Hate Crime.