Report on hate crime in the capital

The London assembly Police and Crime Committee has recently published their inquiry report on hate crime in the capital.

Recommendations from the report include:

  • “MOPAC and the Met should review the provision of Hate Crime Liaison Officers in each Basic Command Unit (BCU) to identify whether additional Liaison Officers are needed.”
  • “the Mayor should provide information as to how he is raising awareness of hate crime among all Londoners. The committee made suggestions such as “holding an annual London event to raise awareness of hate crime…”

Inclusion London provided oral and written evidence to the committee. Below we comment on some of the other recommendations:

  • “…….The Mayor must ensure that MOPAC commissions a properly funded pan-London hate crime advocacy service and should report back to this committee by the end of this year on his plans for the future of the advocacy service.”

We would welcome services in all London boroughs for victims of hate crime but have some concern about the commissioning of a “pan-London” service, as a one size fits all service is not appropriate for Deaf and Disabled victims of hate crime, who need local, accessible support provided by Deaf and Disabled People’s Organisations (DDPOs), as we mentioned in our evidence to the Committee.

The report mentions that “MOPAC will be “rectifying” the “under-resourcing” of the Community Alliance to Combat Hate (CATCH). More funding for the CATCH project is welcome, but reliable, ongoing funding is needed for all Deaf and Disabled People’s Organisations in London providing support to victims of hate crime.

Particularly as Disabled victims often do not come to a DDPO specifically to report a hate crime, instead Deaf and Disabled go to DDPO to receive support over housing or welfare benefits and it emerges during discussions that the person has experienced a hate crime incident. Also we know Disability impacts across all aspects of accessing justice so support is needed by Deaf and Disabled people from the police interview and through-out the court process in all London boroughs.

We recommend that more DDPOs are funded for Disabled victims of Hate Crime across all strands, working closely in partnership with CATCH and the London. DDPO Hate Crime Partnership. Hate Crime Advocate posts also need to include hours to be able to do outreach to engage with potential Disabled victims.

Training of police officers

The report states that

  • “the Met has said it is improving its training of frontline officers around hate crime, having taken much of its learning from the 2016 Disability Hate Crime Matters programme.….1,700 call handlers will be trained by September 2019 and that a hate crime training package is being developed for all front-line staff and officers..”

The Committee’s commitment in the report, to closely watch the impact of this new training on “the number of recorded hate crimes and on victim experience” is important. We ask the Committee to monitor the number of disability hate crimes to see if there is a similar rise under the new training scheme as experienced when the Disability Hate Crime Matters initiative was in progress.

We have some concerns about the Committee’s recommendation below as we believe it may not address the need for training in boroughs where hate crime reports by Deaf and Disabled victims are low:

  • “The Met should ensure that frontline officers’ training on hate crime specifically covers the challenges of hate crime specific to their BCU”

We recommend that all Met officers access training that enables them to identify potential hate crime against Disabled people, especially when dealing with “low level” incidents like neighbour disputes, anti-social behaviour reports, for example.

Impact of politicians’ rhetoric on hate crime
While there was mention of the impact of the current political climate of “polarised views” on hate crime, we were disappointed that there was no direct acknowledgement of the impact of politician’s rhetoric on hate crime as we gave evidence of the benefit fraudster rhetoric by several politicians, evidence of the research showing the negative impact on attitudes of the public towards Deaf and Disabled people and examples of Deaf and Disabled people’s experience of hate crime related to the rhetoric. This is an intersectional problem as there were also concerns raised that there was a spike in hate crime following Boris Johnson’s comments about Muslim women wearing the burka.

This issue has also been picked up by the Travellers’ Movement and Rene Cassin Charities who held an event during National Hate Crime Awareness Week this year in the House of Commons, calling on MPs and Lords to sign up to the Cut It Out Campaign and address who negative comments made in the House of Commons and House of Lords impact on how society views minority groups.

Without directly addressing the issue that politicians’ rhetoric has a link to hate crime this problem is likely to continue and it is particularly relevant following the recent debates in parliament regarding Brexit.

We recommend that the Mayor’s Office also sign up to the Cut It Out Campaign to show their support and commitment to use moderate language when referring to minority groups and issues relating to minority groups.