Written by Charlotte Bryan – Volunteer at ACAA
National hate crime awareness week is an ideal time for ACAA to reflect on its commitment to tackling prejudice, discrimination and hate crime in the community.
The principal tools for building a fairer society, free from discrimination, are raising awareness and education. Through its events and conferences centred on issues facing refugees, ACAA invites members of the community to listen to prominent speakers and partake in discussions.
On 30th August 2017, ACAA held an event entitled ‘Hate Crime and Unaccompanied Minors’. Speakers Phillip Boyle (Help Refugees) and Catherine Treharne and Joy Kyakwita (Hounslow Council ‘Looked After Children’ resources team) led an enlightening discussion on issues facing young refugees today. Catherine Treharne and Joy Kyakwita emphasized the need for the proper provision of legal and welfare advice so that young refugees have as many resources available to them as possible to keep them safe in their communities and improve their quality of life in the UK.
The conversation continued to discuss how best to tackle hate crime. Phillip Boyle argued that the refugee crisis should form an integral part of the UK educational curriculum to help reduce the stigma surrounding refugees and immigrants. In addition, the media should adopt more sensitivity when reporting on refugee issues.
ACAA was also fortunate to receive a hate crime-training workshop, delivered by Keyur Patel from the Community Safety Unit of Hounslow Police, in Partnership with Hounslow Borough Council. One of the major barriers to tackling hate crime is that it is under reported. Volunteers attending the training session were made aware of the free mobile App ‘Self Evident’ (run by the Home Office, Met Police and CPS), which allows witnesses to record evidence, write their own reports, and submit reports to the police.
To promote the reporting of hate incidents, in addition to police and local authority services, there are also ‘3rd party’ reporting centres. Victims or witnesses, who may not feel comfortable talking to the police, are able to visit these locations to share their experiences and receive help in reporting issues to the authorities. Both ACAA offices in Hounslow and Lewisham are registered 3rd party reporting centres. They hope that as this is a less intimidating environment than a police station so more victims or witnesses will speak up and report hate incidents.
It is only by seeking to understand the prejudices existent in our society, and working to alter them to create a better integrated, inclusive community, can we expect to eradicate hate crime. This is not a problem which can be solved overnight. However, through speaking up against hatred and ignorance, and advocating for tolerance and understanding, we can take positive steps to make our community safer for all.