Chief Police Officers Respond to Challenge Over Calls for Victims to Report Non-Crime Hate Incidents

Following comments made in the wake of the stabbing in Barnsley Town Centre last week Senior police officer and advisors have responded to some of the challenges about the police response, specifically about the police responding to non-crime hate incidents

The statement made in response by South Yorkshire Chief Constable Stephen Watson can be viewed here

Now national leaders and advisors have also commented on the situation.

ACC Mark Hamilton, who is the National Policing Lead for Hate Crime, said:

“The police and our partners have recorded and considered non-crime hate incidents since the matter was raised in the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry, which reported on the circumstances surrounding his tragic racist murder in 1993. The Inquiry recognised that responding to non-crime racism was essential, because the impact it has on victims, communities and families was still harmful and also the vast majority of perpetrators start out with more minor offending. We know that this can often escalate if not checked.

The Equality Act of 2010 also places a positive duty on public agencies to consider the need to protect people from targeted harassment based on race, religion or other protected categories.

We offered advice to police and partners in our 2014 guidance and it is designed to ensure that the harm is countered, but that responses are proportionate. In the absence of criminal justice outcomes, we work with partners and communities to seek alternative solutions, such as through education, tension monitoring or community engagement."

The Guidance to police is in the 2014 Hate Crime Operational Guidance can be seen here

Mike Ainsworth, who is the chair of the National Hate Crime Independent Advisory Group (IAG) that offers advice to the police and Government, said:

“Members of the IAG have always recognised the importance of the state responding robustly to hate crime, including measures to record and react to non-crime hate incidents. Even when hostile actions do not reach the threshold of recordable crime, the harm and division caused can still be caustic in our communities and can lead to an escalation to more serious crime if left unchecked. Our group of victims, academics and advocacies, with many years of experience between us, do not know of anyone who has committed a serious hate crime as their first offence. This is why it is essential that the police and others act to prevent hostility from escalating, which is in the best interests of victims, communities and even perpetrators.

We recognise that there is a need for the police and partners to act proportionately, but that cannot include 'burying our head in the sand’. This is an example of proactive policing to prevent escalation. A failure to effectively tackle Hate Incidents can have a catastrophic outcome as in the tragic deaths of Fiona Pilkington and her daughter Francecca Hardwick.

We advised on the formation of the guidance to police officers and believe that it provides a framework for balanced, fair and effective policing.”