Call for new approach to hate crime

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​Support charity wants to see the reporting of hate crime to reflect the accurate number of cases 

28th September 2017 by Robert Armour 0 Comments

Radical new strategies to tackle hate crime are needed, Victim Support has Scotland warned.

More collaboration between civil society, the police and health bodies is required to address what it believes is a much bigger problem than what statistics makes out.

In 2016-17, there were a total of 5,708 hate crime charges in Scotland, many of which were against minority groups.

Some 3,349 were racial, 673 religious, 1,075 LGB, 40 transgender and 188 disability hate crimes.

However the real level of hate crimes were far higher than reported in official statistics, as a significant number go unreported the charity said.

Removing barriers to under-reporting should be a priority, a VSS report said, with hate crimes against groups such as the elderly, asylum seekers, homeless people and travellers considered as part of any new legislation.

Alan McCloskey, VSS director of operations, said: "Most of the policy and research relating to hate crime focuses on the perpetrators and the criminal justice response and, while that has value, we would like to see a shift that keeps victims, and their experiences, at the forefront of all discussions.

"We must tackle the barriers that prevent victims from reporting crime.

"Victims don't report for a number of reasons.

"It could be that they fear they won't be taken seriously, they lack trust in the authorities or they are apprehensive about disclosing their sexual orientation or gender identity to authorities.

"The frequency of 'low level' hate incidents could mean it is impossible for a victim to report them all, and for them it becomes part of day-to-day life and normalised."

Hate crime legislation in Scotland is being reviewed by the High Court judge Lord Bracadale.

The judge has published a consultation paper and requested responses by November.

He said: "Hate crime legislation is a key way in which our society recognises the impact that hate crime can have on victims and our communities.

"Since I was appointed by Scottish ministers to review hate crime legislation, I have deliberately spent time listening to victims and representatives of communities affected by hate crime, as well as those who work in the criminal justice system."