From March 2019 to March 2020, the Crown Prosecution Service prosecuted a total of 10,950 hate crime cases in England and Wales. There were 105,090 hate crimes recorded by the police in England and Wales, excluding the Greater Manchester police, with an increase of 8% compared to 2018-19 with 97,446 offences. The Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) found that most hate crimes were race hate crimes, accounting for around 72% of offences. This increased by 6% between 2018-19 and 2019-20.
What is a hate crime?
The Crown Prosecution Service defines a hate crime as a “range of criminal behaviours where the perpetrator is motivated by hostility or demonstrates hostility towards the victim’s disability, race, religion, sexual orientation or transgender identity.”
Victim First supports those who have been targeted by a hate crime, including a case where an individual was assaulted in a park and had racial slurs directed at her, while she was with her child. The victim felt understandably upset, as well as isolated and unwanted in her community. She felt unsafe at home and feared that the suspect would return to torment her. A Victim First caseworker provided ongoing emotional support, while the victim was encouraged to openly speak about the impact her experience had on her.
Another Victim First caseworker supported a service user, Kate*, who had an ex-partner threatening to disclose her sexual orientation to the community, making her distressed and isolated. Following initial phone support, Kate was invited to an appointment where she was able to bring along a supportive friend, and by the end of the meeting, the individual said this was the first time anybody had properly engaged with her to address the issue she was facing. As well as providing other support, Victim First referred Kate to the Citizens Advice Bureau and advocated on her behalf with the Housing Department to ensure she received the support she needed. Kate has now been re-housed in a different city and feels safe and happy.
Hertfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, David Lloyd, is responsible for most of the support services for local victims of crime. Beacon Victim Care was launched to provide a complete wrap around service to help victims to cope and recover regardless of whether they reported the crime to Police or not.
David Lloyd has also funded a report ‘Healing the Harms: Identifying how best to support Hate Crime Victims’ led by the University of Leicester’s Centre for Hate Studies. They asked people to share their experiences and thoughts on support services locally and nationally. The findings and recommendations will be used to improve support services for hate crime victims in Hertfordshire through the Beacon Victim Care centre and to develop the next hate crime strategy for the county.
Everyone’s needs are different and victim services must be designed to respond to individual cases, as is most appropriate for the person harmed. Hate crimes are widely under-reported, but with better advocacy for victims and more understanding of what constitutes a hate crime, we can prevent further incidences and empower those who have been targeted.