Hate and mate crime is something which affects many people, but because of its nature it often goes unreported or can be seen as ‘everyday’ behaviour towards people with particular identities or perceived differences. However, in reality, it is harassment and victimisation. In 2015/16 official figures were released stating that nationally 62,518 hate crimes were recorded1. Whilst this number appears to be high it is widely noted that this number is considerably smaller than the scale of the problem. This is mostly due to underreporting that has been highlighted in much research; illustrating that the majority of hate crime victims do not report their experiences to available services or the police2.
There are many identified barriers that lead to under-reporting of Hate Crime, for example, the fear of not being believed, previous experiences or the fear of reprisals. JUST Lincolnshire were asked to attend regular meetings with a group of adults, some of whom may be a victim of mate crime. JL gave several informal training sessions with the aim of being able to raise awareness of what is genuinely considered a crime and encourage those who may be vulnerable to victimisation to come forward and report their experiences or worries.
The training sessions lasted around 45 minutes and the group were incredibly receptive, with some coming forward with poems they had written around the subject. One member approached the JL team after the session discussing her distress about a friend/neighbour stealing money from her purse whilst she had left the room. She explained how she did not wish to report the incident to the police but retelling the information to somebody had made her feel better. It is this release felt by victims that makes raising awareness of hate and mate crime so essential for the fundamental wellbeing of victims. Following her revelation, a member of the JL team was able to anonymously pass the information to Stop Hate UK.
The following week another additional member of the group reported to JL how they were having money taken from by so-called ‘friends’ and was fed up with it. This particular person had extreme difficulties when trying to report and explain what had happened to him and this raised further awareness of the support that is needed for many people. The support in question is not only in identifying that these people have been victims but how assertive you need to be in ensuring these experiences are recorded as a hate crime and nothing less. Many times over the next couple of weeks this person reported more incidents however these were not always associated and connected which caused a lot of confusion for the reporting agencies and police alongside.
The total sum of money this person lost amounted to several hundred pounds which had all been obtained by the perpetrators spinning very sad and believable tales to this person. It was noticed by peers that the person had become very withdrawn and it eventually came to light that a man who was a ‘friend of a friend’ had moved into their flat without invitation. It became apparent that this person was being threatened to keep quiet otherwise physical harm would come to a family member who lived nearby. Research evidence shows that hate crime causes substantial emotional and physical damage to the wellbeing of victims, their families and the wider community3, 4.
This was reported to the police but unfortunately the steps they took to help actually exacerbated the threats and made the situation more volatile than before. JUST Lincolnshire proceeded to approach a colleague within Lincolnshire Police to express their growing concern for the situation and anxieties that it was worsening. JL expressed to the police that further support was needed and potentially a deeper investigation to pull all of the incidents together. The positive outcome from this was ‘a package of support’ being developed, put together by multiple agencies, to support vulnerable people who may be victims of hate or mate crime.
1Corcoran, H., Lader, D. and Smith, K. (2016) ‘Hate Crimes, England and Wales, 2015/16’, Home Office Statistical Bulletin 11/16. London: Home Office.
2 Chakraborti, N. and Hardy, S. (2016). Healing the Harms: Identifying How Best to Support Hate Crime Victims. [online] Hertfordshire: University of Leicester. Available at: http://hertscommissioner.org/fluidcms/files/files/pdf/Victims-Commissioning/Healing-the-Harms—-Final-Report.pdf [Accessed 3 Apr. 2017].
3Chakraborti, N., Garland, J. and Hardy, S. (2014) The Leicester Hate Crime Project: Findings and Conclusions. Leicester: University of Leicester.
4Iganski, P. and Lagou, S. (2015) ‘Hate Crimes Hurt Some More Than Others: Implications for the Just Sentencing of Offenders’ Journal of Interpersonal Violence 30 (10): 1696-1718.