17th October 2023 | Lieutenancy News

National Hate Crime Awareness Week is from 14th – 21st October 2023.

The aim of National Hate Crime Awareness Week is to:

  • Raise hate crime awareness
  • Improve operational responses to hate crime
  • Prevent hate crime
  • Empower communities affected by hate crime

What is hate CRIME?

A Hate Crime (criminal offence) or Hate Incident (non-criminal offence) is any offence which is perceived by the victim or any other person to be motivated by a hostility or prejudice based on the following strands:

  • A person’s race or perceived race, including any racial group or ethnic background including counties within the UK and Gypsy and Traveller groups.
  • A person’s religion or perceived religion including those who have no faith.
  • A person’s sexual orientation or perceived sexual orientation.
  • A person’s disability or perceived disability, including physical disability, learning disability and mental health or development disorders.
  • A person who is transgender or perceived transgender, including people who are transsexual, transgender, cross dressers and those who hold a Gender Recognition Certificate under the Gender Recognition Act 2004.

A 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 race, religion, sexual orientation, disability, and gender.

Examples of hate crime include:

  • Physical attacks: physical assault, damage to property, offensive graffiti, and arson.
  • Threat of attack: inciting hatred via words, pictures, or videos, offensive letters, abusive or obscene telephone calls, groups hanging around to intimidate others, and unfounded malicious complaints.

It’s very important to report all hate crime incidents however minor these may be. An increase in reporting will give Surrey Police better intelligence on what’s happening in local areas and hopefully help to mitigate more serious hate crime incidents.

  • Physical assault of any kind is an offence and should be reported.  Depending on the level of the violence used, a perpetrator may be charged with common assault, actual bodily harm, or grievous bodily harm.
  • Verbal abuse, threats or name-calling can be a common and extremely unpleasant experience for minority groups. Victims of verbal abuse are often unclear whether an offence has been committed or believe there is little they can do. However, there are laws in place to protect you from verbal abuse.
  • The offence of incitement to hatred occurs when someone acts in a way that is threatening and intended to stir up hatred. This could be in words, pictures, videos, music, and includes information posted on websites.

Hate crimes and hate incidents have significant impact on victims and communities. Hate crime is particularly damaging and corrosive because it is an attack on an individual or community just because of who they are. Hate crime impacts the individual victim and also the wider community.

Hate crime victims’ whether they are individuals, families, or whole communities, live in fear and anxiety which has a detrimental impact on local areas.

Hate incidents as a one-off or a related series of events can send reverberations through communities, as they can reinforce established patterns of prejudice and discrimination.

We all have a human right to live in a safe and tolerant society and with this right comes the responsibility and duty to ensure that we work hard towards helping to prevent hate crime and its consequences on our communities and localities. This will help all communities to feel safe, secure, and empowered as they go about their daily lives.

How we deal with hate crime and the seriousness we give to tackling hate crime is a mark of a civilised and tolerant society and is important to growing strong, cohesive, and tolerant communities. This is surely the goal we want to strive for, for all our local areas and the whole county.

Surrey Police have set out their commitment on addressing hate crime in their hate crime strategy.  This strategy sets out how Surrey Police will work to make Surrey, a county that is safe and feels safe for everyone and is intolerant of hate crime and those who commit these acts.

Surrey Police have also established a Hate Crime Scrutiny Panel comprising of independent diverse community members.  This panel helps the police to scrutinise hate crime cases from a victims’ perspective helping to improve victim experience as a result of reporting a hate crime incident.

This panel also helps the communities to build more productive and meaningful relationships with local police, helping to build confidence and trust between communities and Surrey Police.

We all need to use this Hate Crime Awareness week to reflect on behaviours, prejudices, and unconscious bias we hold on to, often without realising this ourselves. We need to try to better understand the impact of our behaviours on individuals, communities and the wider society and our role in growing a more safe and tolerant society.  

Neelam Devesher DL

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