Guest post from blogger, comedian and Direct Payments service user Ted Shiress:
One can easily be startled at the amount of hate-crimes that occur today, but worse is that such a figure is always inaccurate as the majority of hate-crimes go unreported (60%, statistics suggest). Victims may be coming forward more, but many still don’t. One reason for this is victims are often made to feel that the incident was insignificant and reporting it would make them somehow ‘pathetic’, yet such feelings are merely an effect of the bullying. When made to feel so small one often loses sight of the obvious, ie that a crime is a crime.
The words ‘hate’ and ‘crime’ are two separate components in that the ‘hate’ is an additional component, so without it the deed would still be a crime. The hatred is what has motivated it. For example, burglary is a crime, whilst burgling someone due to hatred of their race is a hate-crime. The second is, quite rightly, worse but one must remember it is still a crime to begin with. Therefore it can never be insignificant.
By it’s very nature, a hate-crime is a crime and therefore an offence worthy of reporting.
The other main reason is the victim feels scared of what may happen if they report. Such offences often come with threats about what will happen if others, especially the police, are told. In this instance one must trust the police and understand it is their duty to both fight crime and ensure your safety, so if you are in danger they will protect you. Police will talk to you in confidence meaning no details will be disclosed to anyone else unless you say the can be (however they will be obligated to do so if they believe you or someone else is in danger). As well as that, it is possible to contact the police anonymously where no details of your identity are shared. Although one must consider that this restricts the ability to research and fight the crime, this is still an option if it ensures your safety.
The most common target for hate-crimes are racial minorities (racially motivated hate-crime) and these incidents are far from diminishing. One may speculate if this is linked to the current popularity of right-wing anti-immigration parties. Such groups paint a false picture of immigrants draining society and being responsible for our failing economy, so it is understandable to see why people turn on these groups.
The best way to quash such attitudes, and therefore prevent these crimes, is education and integration. British people should be taught to appreciate the value of diversity which will make them welcoming towards those from a different culture. Society should realise that this is a two-way street. When those from different cultures are welcomed they will always bring something new to the society and contribute to it. Reports often show that immigrants prove the most hard-working group of people and only ‘sponge’ and behave like they are unwelcome when made to feel this way.
Disability is another common target and this shows an interesting divide in motivation factors; some hate-crimes are committed out of sheer hatred and a feeling of that group being genuinely bad, and hate-crimes can also be done for the thrill and/or because the victim is seen as an easy target. Those with learning disabilities can often be victims of the second where the offender plays on their vulnerabilities and ‘tricks’ them (mate crime). Likewise with the current rhetoric of disabled people being scroungers and a burden, hate-crimes can also be committed against disabled people as they are perceived to be ‘bad’.
Although much more needs to be done to tackle vile hate-crimes it is clear that, in theory, the methods to reduce them are simple. A society that welcomes diversity and doesn’t think of people as burdens will be one with less hate-crimes.
To report a Hate Crime, you can contact Victim Support: