This Black History Month, we’ve been celebrating the incredible people, cultures and moments that have shaped us. But we also want to use this occasion to reflect on the hardships faced by Black and other marginalised communities, by talking about hate crime, and, more importantly, raising awareness for how to spot, report and stop it.
We spoke with James Evans at SARI (Stand Against Racism and Inequality), our charity partner, to unpack the topic, and more about how to protect and support all affected.
With that, over to James...
James: You can find the legal definition of hate crime set forth by the CPS here. We explain it as follows:
Hate crime is any form of criminal offence motivated by hostility or prejudice. Anyone can be affected by hate crime, with crimes being committed against people because of who they are, because of who the perpetrator thinks they are, or because of what they believe in.
A crime becomes a hate crime when it is motivated by hostility or prejudice on the following grounds:
- Ethnicity or race
- Disability (including mental health)
- Sexual orientation
- Gender identity
- Religion or belief
These are called ‘protected characteristics’ and are included in the Equality Act 2010.
James: The Home Office releases annual statistics on the number of hate crimes reported. They recently released statistics for the year ending March 2022, where reported hate crimes were up 26% to 155, 841. The majority of these were racially motivated hate crimes, and the biggest increase were transgender identity hate crimes.
There have been increases in the number of hate crimes reported in recent years. It’s difficult to know whether this is because of increased awareness and an improvement in recording, or because there has been an increase in hate crime.
James: It is hard to estimate how many hate crimes go unreported as there is understandably no concrete data on this. It is important though to consider why hate crimes might not be reported. It could be because the victim does not realise that what they have experienced constitutes a hate crime or does not realise that there are services that will support them. They could be afraid of repercussions, be so used to abuse that it has been normalised for them or be mistrustful or fearful of the police.
James: SARI offers free and confidential support to anyone in Avon and Somerset who has experienced hate crime. This support can be vital in helping people rebuild their lives after a hate crime, in helping communities heal, in holding public bodies accountable and in helping to bring perpetrators to justice.
Alongside this support, SARI works to reduce the risk of future hate crime, running awareness-raising sessions in the community and amongst schools, organisations and employers. The more people who understand what hate crime is, and the more people understand the devastating impact that it can have, the more we can work to prevent it.
James: Anybody can report a hate crime – whether they’re the victim, someone who saw the crime or someone who was told about it.
Everybody has a role to play in stopping hate crimes. Whether it is challenging someone who is perpetuating myths or stereotypes (if it’s safe to do so), encouraging someone to report a hate crime, or advocating for better awareness, everyone can make a difference.
James: It’s important to remember that a victim does not have to be a member of the group the hostility is targeted at. In fact, anyone could be a victim of a hate crime. For example, you could be called a homophobic slur, even if you’re heterosexual. Hate crime can be committed against a person or property – like Islamophobic graffiti on a mosque for example.
James: At SARI, we don’t believe that there are major drawbacks to reporting a hate crime. By reporting a hate crime, people have access to support that they may not otherwise have had, and there are more chances of stopping the behaviour before it escalates or is repeated. Some people may feel uncomfortable coming forward for a number of reasons, and that’s why it’s so important that organisations and statutory bodies treat victims in earnest.
James: The best thing we can all do is help raise awareness of hate crime, the effect it has on victims and the support that is available. If someone doesn’t know how to report hate crime or has a poor experience when they do, they’re much less likely to report it if, or when they experience it in future, and ultimately that means we can’t act against the perpetrator and more people may become victims.
James: People can get in touch with SARI through the website or by calling us on 0117 942 0060. Our service is free and confidential and is offered to anyone in the Avon and Somerset area.
James: SARI is a charity and relies on the generosity of donors and funders to ensure it can deliver its much-needed service. To support our vital work in the community, people can make a donation to help eliminate hate. People can also support SARI by raising awareness of the work we do. A great way to help is through an organised event or activity like a fun run, bake sale, or quiz night – that way you’re raising money and awareness! We’re also able to provide training, so if you work for a school, company or organisation, then you can bring us in to run a session and help us raise awareness of hate crime.
For more information and support on hate crime, to get involved with SARI or the work they do, head to their site. And a big big thank you to James and the SARI team for their time and expertise.