[MAC0013]

 

Written evidence submitted by Kevin Wong and Kris Christmann (MAC0013)

 

THE AUTHORS

Kevin Wong is Reader in Community Justice, Associate Director of the Policy Evaluation and Research Unit (PERU), Manchester Metropolitan University.  He has over twenty years’ experience as a policy advisor, practitioner and researcher into racially motivated and other hate crime.  He established the Merseyside Racial Harassment Prevention Unit in 2000 and was an advisor to  Merseyside Police on the implementation of the MacPherson Report recommendations and a member of the British Transport Police hate crime scrutiny panel.

Kris Christmann is a Research Fellow at the Applied Criminology and Policing Centre (ACPC) at the University of Huddersfield for over 20 years. He has researched hate crime, radicalisation, violent extremism and terrorism and counter-terrorism measures for the Youth Justice Board, The Office for Security and Counter Terrorism, The Centre for Research and Evidence on Security Threats (CREST),  the Home Office and the European Union (DGMove).

INTRODUCTION

1. Our submission has a particular focus on Recommendations 15 and 16 from the MacPherson report which addressed the issue of hate crime reporting (see below).  Between us we have over 40 years’ experience of advising and researching this issue.

REPORTING AND RECORDING OF RACIST INCIDENTS AND CRIMES

15. That Codes of Practice be established by the Home Office, in consultation with Police Services, local Government and relevant agencies, to create a comprehensive system of reporting and recording of all racist incidents and crimes.

16. That all possible steps should be taken by Police Services at local level in consultation with local Government and other agencies and local communities to encourage the reporting of racist incidents and crimes. This should include:

- the ability to report at locations other than police stations; and

- the ability to report 24 hours a day.

 

 

 

WHY THIS IS OF CONCERN

2. The COVID-19 pandemic has once again highlighted how hate crimes can increase as a response to geo-political events.  The threefold increase in hate crimes against Chinese people recorded by UK police forces in the first three months of 2020 – based on a Freedom of Information Request to the 45 territorial forces and British Transport Police – attests to this[i].

3. The testimony of victims reported across the press and other media[ii] suggests that this was due to perpetrators blaming the victims and/or all Chinese people for the spread of the COVID-19 Coronavirus.

4. This is illustrated by Jonathan Mok, a student from Singapore, who was attacked in Oxford Street, London by people who allegedly said: 'I don't want your coronavirus'.[iii]

5. Whilst there has been a steep rise in hate crime against Chinese people, with 267 recorded crime in the first three months (between January to March) of 2020 compared with 375 during the whole of 2019 - the number of police recorded hate crimes against Chinese people, during the period in question is relatively low. However, this is very unlikely to be a true picture of all hate crimes that occurred during this period.

6. The reporting of all hate crimes to the police is notoriously low. There is considerable and sustained evidence to confirm that hate crime is significantly underreported in the UK, from the Crime Survey England and Wales (CSEW) (Corcoran et al., 2015[iv]) to smaller scale studies (Chakraborti et al., 2014[v]; Stonewall, 2013[vi]; Wong et al., 2013[vii]).

THE INTENTION OF THE MACPHERSON REPORT

7. Recommendation 15 from the MacPherson report recognised the need to provide an alternative to the police reporting mechanism for victims of racial hate crime in the UK (MacPherson, 1999). Intended to circumvent mistrust driven by poor police/community relations, third party reporting centres (TPRCs) have since flourished in a patchwork of provision across the UK, extending their function across five monitored victim strands recognised by the government[viii]. Citizens Advice Bureaux, community and faith groups, student unions, public libraries, housing authority neighbourhood offices and day care centres can all be TPRCs. Impetus for their further growth has come from refreshed action plans on hate crime which explicitly endorse third party reporting (Home Office, 2016; Welsh Government, 2014).

8. Arguably of course, if Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities had greater faith in the police, such that they and other groups affected by hate crime would report all hate incidents and crime to the police - TPRCs would not need to exist.

9. That TPRCs continue - with their role endorsed by government suggests that the police still have some way to go in bridging the gap with BAME communities.  People vote with their feet.  Clearly, mistrust of the police still exists, despite efforts around police training, community engagement policies and guidance.

10. Additionally, victim dissatisfaction with the police response to hate crime, remains. In England and Wales, this is confirmed by Corcoran et al. (2015)[ix] and by earlier studies (Chakraborti et al., 2014[x]; Home Office, Office for National Statistics and Ministry of Justice 2013[xi];  Stonewall, 2013[xii]; Victim Support, 2005[xiii])

THE PERFORMANCE OF THIRD PARTY REPORTING CENTRES

11. What about the performance of non-police third party reporting centres?    Firstly, it is important to recognise a distinction between third party reporting centres TPRCs and services. The latter such as Stop Hate UK[xiv] and Tell Mama[xv] generally perform well, providing publicly available statistical reports of incidents as an index of performance, accountability and transparency. The wider picture amongst the former - very many more TPRCs is more difficult to gauge. Worryingly, it is not possible to assess their performance on the most fundamental measure - receiving reports of hate crimes because of a startling lack of data (see Monchuk and Santana-Acosta 2006[xvi], cited in Wong and Christmann, 2016[xvii]; Wong and Christmann, 2008[xviii]; Wong et al., 2013[xix])

12. The most extensive review to date of TPRCs in England and Wales undertaken by the National Policing Hate Crime Group was damning. ‘Many’ of the schemes examined had failed to increase hate crime reporting and they were found not to be delivering ‘any tangible results’ (College of Policing, National Policing Hate Crime Group, 2014: 48–49[xx]). They recommended that the performance of centres be monitored and any identified shortfalls be addressed.

13. In Scotland, difficulties in the consistency of provision by TPRCs, as well as limited numbers of case workers and concerns over the quality of their training have been raised by Scotland’s Independent Advisory Group (One Scotland, 2016[xxi], 2017[xxii]). Not all listed centres were operational, some staff were unclear about how to deal with hate crime victims, there were low levels of reporting, and concerns were expressed about the general level of awareness amongst the wider populations as to the existence of TPRCs (One Scotland, 2016, 2017).

14. These disappointing findings chime with the conclusions of earlier small scale studies which have examined TPRC effectiveness across areas of England (Chakraborti and Hardy, 2015[xxiii]; JUST West Yorkshire, 2012[xxiv]; Roulstone and Thomas, 2009[xxv]).

15. We suggest that successive governments’ uncritical and blind acceptance of TPRCs may be acting as an inhibitor to improving their efficacy (Wong and Christmann, 2016[xxvi]). They have no idea how well TPRCs are working yet still recommend that they are used to address continued mistrust of reporting hate crimes to the police.  This is clearly not in the spirit or intent of the MacPherson Report.

RECOMMENDATIONS

In response we make the following recommendations:

Recommendation 1:

A national register of third-party reporting centres and services needs to be established for England and Wales.

Recommendation 2:

All registered third party reporting centres and services should be required to adhere to a set of national operating and accountability standards. 

A useful starting point for these national standards can be found in the third party reporting centre assessment tool developed by Manchester Metropolitan University and the University of Huddersfield (see Wong, Christmann, Rogerson and Monk 2020[xxvii]

Recommendation 3:

The Home Office and Police and Crime Commissioners should have a duty to regularly review the performance of third party reporting centres and services.

June 2020

5

 


[i] This Freedom of Information Request was submitted by Sky News: https://news.sky.com/story/coronavirus-home-secretary-urged-to-act-on-unacceptable-rise-in-anti-chinese-hate-crimes-11983731

[ii] For example see: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/coronavirus-uk-hate-crimes-chinese-people-china-a9499991.html  

[iii] https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-51736755

[iv] Corcoran H, Lader D and Smith K (2015) Hate crime, England and Wales 2014/15. Report, Home Office, UK,

October. Available at: http://report-it.org.uk/files/ho_hate_crime_statistics_201415.pdf (accessed 11 May

2018).

[v] Chakraborti N, Garland J and Hardy S (2014) The Leicester Hate Crime Project: Findings and conclusions.

Report, University of Leicester, UK. Available at: https://www2.le.ac.uk/departments/criminology/hate/

documents/fc-full-report (accessed 11 May 2018).

[vi] Stonewall (2013) Homophobic hate crime: The Gay British Crime Survey 2013. Report. London: Stonewall.

Available at: https://www.stonewall.org.uk/sites/default/files/Homophobic_Hate_Crime__2013_.pdf

(accessed 11 May 2018).

[vii] Wong K, Christmann K, Meadows L, et al. (2013) Hate Crime in Suffolk: Understanding Prevalence and

Support Needs. Sheffield: Sheffield Hallam University. Available at: http://shura.shu.ac.uk/10393/1/Hate-

Crime-in-Suffolk.pdf (accessed 11 May 2018).

[viii] There are five centrally monitored strands of hate crime which are based on protected characteristics

(although the degree of protection under the law varies by the characteristic, so not all groups enjoy the

same degree of protection). These five monitored strands are: (a) race or ethnicity; (b) religion or belief

(including non-belief); (c) sexual orientation; (d) disability; and (e) transgender identity (O’Neill, 2017).

In addition to this legal protection, these ‘monitored strands’ also have a formal status under a counting

rule, where police forces and, centrally, the Home Office are required to record victimisation across each

strand. The extent to which other groups (outside of the nationally monitored strands) are similarly open

to victimisation on the basis of a shared characteristic or identity is a debatable question and therefore the

remit of third party reporting remains contested (Akhtar, 2017; Ellison and Smith, 2017).

[ix] Corcoran H, Lader D and Smith K (2015) Hate crime, England and Wales 2014/15. Report, Home Office, UK,

October. Available at: http://report-it.org.uk/files/ho_hate_crime_statistics_201415.pdf (accessed 11 May

2018).

[x] Chakraborti N, Garland J and Hardy S (2014) The Leicester Hate Crime Project: Findings and conclusions.

Report, University of Leicester, UK. Available at: https://www2.le.ac.uk/departments/criminology/hate/

documents/fc-full-report (accessed 11 May 2018).

[xi] Home Office, Office for National Statistics and Ministry of Justice (2013) An overview of hate crimes in

England and Wales. Report. December, London: Her Majesty’s Stationery Office. Available at: https://

assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/266358/hatecrime-

2013.pdf

[xii] Stonewall (2013) Homophobic hate crime: The Gay British Crime Survey 2013. Report. London: Stonewall.

Available at: https://www.stonewall.org.uk/sites/default/files/Homophobic_Hate_Crime__2013_.pdf

[xiii] Victim Support (2005) The Impact of Hate Crime: Needs, Practical and Emotional Support for Victims, A

Literature Review. London: Victim Support.

[xiv] Stop Hate UK provides a confidential 24-hour telephone helpline to report all forms of hate crime and

provides a range of signposting and support for victims

[xv] TellMAMA is a non-governmental organisation providing a confidential reporting service for all hate

crime, although it is best known (and badged) as tackling anti-Muslim incidents

[xvi] Monchuk L and Santana-Acosta J (2006) An audit of the hate crime reporting centres in [study area].

Unpublished report for [study area] Safer Communities Partnership. Hudderfield, West Yorkshire.

Applied Criminology Centre, University of Huddersfield.

[xvii] Wong K and Christmann K (2016) Hate crime reporting: Narrowing the gap between policy aspiration and

victim inclination. British Journal of Community Justice 14(3): 5–2

[xviii] Wong K and Christmann K (2008) The role of decision-making in reporting hate crimes. Safer Communities

Journal 7(2): 19–34.

[xix] Wong K, Christmann K, Meadows L, et al. (2013) Hate Crime in Suffolk: Understanding Prevalence and

Support Needs. Sheffield: Sheffield Hallam University. Available at: http://shura.shu.ac.uk/10393/1/Hate-

Crime-in-Suffolk.pdf

[xx] College of Policing, National Policing Hate Group (2014) Hate Crime Operational Guidance (C118/0514).

Coventry: College of Policing Limited. Available at: https://www.college.police.uk/What-we-do/Support/

Equality/Documents/Hate-Crime-Operational-Guidance.pdf

[xxi]One Scotland (2016) Report of the Independent Advisory Group on Hate Crime, Prejudice and Community

Cohesion. Report. September, Edinburgh. OGL. Available at: https://dera.ioe.ac.uk/27526/1/00506074.

pdf (

[xxii] One Scotland (2017) Tackling Prejudice and Building Connected Communities: Scottish Government

response to the Independent Advisory Group on Hate Crime, Prejudice and Community Cohesion. Edinburgh,

OGL. Available at: https://www.gov.scot/publications/tackling-prejudice-building-connected-com

munities-scottish-government-response-report-independent/

[xxiii] Chakraborti N and Hardy S (2015) LGB & T hate crime reporting: Identifying barriers and solutions. Report

for Equality and Human Rights Commission, University of Leicester, UK. Available at: https://www.

equalityhumanrights.com/sites/default/files/research-lgbt-hate-crime-reporting-identifying-barriers-andsolutions.

pdf (

[xxiv] JUST West Yorkshire (2012) JUST’s Research Findings on Hate Incident Reporting Centre’s in West

Yorkshire. Bradford: JUST.

[xxv] Roulstone A and Thomas P (2009) Hate Crime and Disabled People: A Survey of Practice Activity and

Approaches in the North West of England. Technical Report. Breakthrough UK Ltd and The Equality and

Human Rights Commission, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK.

[xxvi] Wong K and Christmann K (2016) Hate crime reporting: Narrowing the gap between policy aspiration and

victim inclination. British Journal of Community Justice 14(3): 5–23.

[xxvii] Wong, K., Christmann, K., Rogerson, M., Monk, H. (2020) Reality versus rhetoric:

Assessing the efficacy of third-party hate crime reporting centres, International Review of Victimology

2020, Vol. 26(1) 79–95