Written by Charlotte Bryan – Volunteer at ACAA
National hate crime awareness week, run by Stop Hate UK, runs from 14th – 21st October this year.
Stop Hate UK have been tackling hate crime in the UK for over 20 years. The campaign aims to raise awareness of hate crime in the UK, to remember the victims who have lost their lives to hate crime and to support those who are still being victimised.
In the UK, refugees and asylum seekers are at particular risk of becoming victims of hate crime.
What is the difference between a hate incident and a hate crime?
A hate incident is an act motivated by prejudice. Whilst it may not break the law, it should still be reported and recorded.
Not all hate incidents break the law. Those that do, become hate crimes and are classed as a criminal act.
It is important to remember that hate incidents can take many forms, from verbal abuse and harassment, online intimidation and abusive texts to physical violence.
Refugees and Hate Crime
Although statistics are scarce regarding refugees specifically as victims of hate crime, nationwide incidents of racist and religious hate crime are on the rise.
The negative language used in debates on refugee and migrant rights in the run up to the EU referendum last year gave licence to discriminatory speech, and entitlement to those with prejudiced views to commit hate crimes.
The Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) maintains an online hate crime dashboard, mapping incidents of hate crime by borough. In Hounslow alone, incidents of hate crime have risen steeply from 2014 to the present day; reporting 608 racist hate crimes in June 2017. The data also shows that 37% of victims in Hounslow in the last year were of Asian ethnicity.
In addition, DEMOS think tank social media researchers found that between March 2016 and March 2017, 143,920 derogatory anti-Islamic tweets were sent from the UK, an average of 393 per day.
As hate crime is rising, it is important that communities and authorities work together to promote integration and cooperation to prevent incidents and protect victims.
ACAA tackling hate crime
On Wednesday 30th August 2017, the Afghanistan and Central Asian Association hosted an event entitled ‘Hate Crime and Unaccompanied Minors’. Speakers included Phili Boyle (Help Refugees) and Joy Kyakwita and Catherine Treharne (Hounslow Council Children Looked After resources team), to discuss the sensitive issues surrounding hate crime and young refugees. The discussion covered various ways to tackle hate crime in the community, and it was suggested that the refugee crisis should form a part of the educational curriculum, and that the media should take steps to improve the way in which refugees and asylum seekers are portrayed.
Given that one of the major problems associated with tackling hate crime is that it is widely under reported, one key combative measure is to encourage members of the community to report incidents. Even if it does not result in prosecution, increased reporting will help the authorities to have a more accurate picture of the extent of hate crime in the community so that they are able to take the most appropriate steps forward. Education is also fundamental to raising awareness and changing social attitudes.
ACAA is committed to supporting and empowering the most vulnerable in our society. Vanquishing hate crime is integral to their goals and improving lives in the community.