This week is National Hate Crime Awareness Week across the UK, a time to recognise this prominent societal issue and spark discussion about how it can be combated. Hate crime in the UK has become an increasingly prevalent issue this year in the wake of Brexit. Figures from the National Police Chief’s Council reported a 49% rise in hate incidents in the last week of July 2016 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, compared with the previous year.
The NUS carried out a series of reports into hate crimes on UK campuses and found that, of its 9,229 respondents, 16% had experienced at least one form of hate crime in their current institution.
Incidents can range from a throwaway verbal comment to physical assault, yet the severity of the act is determined by how victims are left feeling. However, as Met Police Commissioner, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, has stated, this is an area where crime is “massively under-reported”.
The NUS reports into hate crimes identified a number of reasons why these incidents are so widely unreported. These include: embarrassment on the part of the victim, fear of reprisal, concerns over confidentiality, and the notion that these incidents are not ‘worth’ reporting. However, these crimes need to be reported as this is the most effective way they can be prevented.
LUU Advice is a hate crime reporting centre, and is a safe and confidential space which functions to support and help students. The service is confidential, independent from the University where students will always be listened to and supported. Incidents can also be reported and discussed with the organisation Stop Hate. Visit http://www.stophateuk.org/ to find out more.
Matt Guy, Police-Student Liaison Officer for LUU, had this to say on reporting hate incidents to the police:
“A student reported to me that they their friend had been walking through Leeds Centre to University around at mid-day. A complete stranger verbally abused her & poured a pint of lager on her head because she was wearing niqab.
“The student didn’t see this as a crime and was unsure if the police would do anything if she did report it. This is a crime and we the police will always take it seriously and investigate to identify and prosecute any offenders.
“No one should ever accept this behaviour.
“We always have avenues of investigation in crimes such as this, such as pub, council and shop CCTV, so never think it’s not worth it. If you still don’t want to report it to the police, please can I encourage you to report these incidents to organisations such as Stop Hate UK, TellMamma or Crime Stoppers.
Police web link to info on reporting: https://www.westyorkshire.police.uk/hatecrime”
This week is a chance to start talking about hate crimes in society and on campuses and send a clear message that they will not be tolerated.