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View from The Voice: Why the UK must defeat hate crime

INCREASE: Hate crime (Photo credit: AFP)

ACCORDING TO recent figures published by the Home Office, hate crime has increased by 29 per cent in the past year alone.

Police forces across England and Wales recorded just over 80,000 hate crimes in 2016-2017, the largest recorded rise in the six years since records began. These figures, as shocking as they are, could well be an underestimate.

The sad truth is that many who are the victims of this terrible crime do not report it to the police for a number of reasons. That is why the new Huddersfiled University project to investigate and dismantle any barriers that might hinder the reporting of crimes or incidents motivated by factors such as race, gender or disability is so important.

We have to understand the reasons behind the lack of reporting. As well as developing an understanding of non- reporting the project is also aiming to produce some positive messages encouraging people to report hate crime.

Although focused on students across the country it is widely hoped that it will provide a valuable model for equality campaigners and law enforcement officers to adopt across the whole country.

The consequences of hate crime against an individual are terrible. Victims report feeling isolated and talk of how the fear has pervaded and changed their lives. Without a doubt the poisonous, racially charged anti-immigrant rhetoric that has followed Brexit has played no small part in opening up anyone deemed diferent.

Following in the footsteps of the Huddersfield project the first thing we must do to tackle hate crime is to start really listening to victims of hate crime.

The police and those who work with the victims of crime must try much harder at reaching vulnerable groups of people and talking with individuals directly– and then understand their need to be believed.

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