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Case study on Race hate crime in the UK

Introduction

Race hate crime can have a drastic effect on a victim and a family, but it can also influence a community through tension and fear of crime. Race hate crime has been flooding our country from one generation to another. Most people think that race hate crime is just a fight or robbery, but it is more (Bourne, 2001). Furthermore, race-based hate crime is the most popular and well-known hate crime in the public domain based on statistics and numbers because the majority of people fall victim to this hate crime. There were about 103,379 hate crimes in the police record in England and Wales between 2018 and 2019 (Corcoran, Lader & Smith, 2015). However, most of the hate crimes recorded based on race were accounting to about three-quarters of offenses. The main challenge to reporting racially based hate crime is the constant failure of the criminal justice system to handle the race-based incidents. Thus, this case study will show that race hate crime is more common than other hate crimes. It will also explain the devastating effect of race hate crime on victims and communities, particularly in the UK.

Definition of race hate crime

The academic and legal description of race hates crime assists in understanding how the concept differs. Academically, race hate crime refers to having hatred towards an individual or a community because of their color, skin, and language or due to their places of birth and believing that one race is more superior to another (Funnell, 2015). It is any form of hatred projected to a community or an individual shaped by differences in skin color as well as language. For example, race hate crime occurs when people of color living in the UK are victimized because of their skin color. Legally, race hate crime is any criminal offense seen by a victim or any other to be contributed fully or partially by prejudice on an individual’s race. Prejudicial perceptions of minorities may develop when an individual or a community perceive minorities to be invading their space (Garland & Funnell, 2016). In the UK, people from black and minority ethnic groups or communities are twice as likely to live in poverty compared to an individual from a white background because of violence and hostility projected.

Nature and extent of race hate crime

Race hate crime is not a new aspect in the world, especially in the UK. The history of the UK over the previous years are filled with violent manifestations of prejudice and hate. Thus, race-based hate crime is more prevalent than others has evolved. The statistics show the nature and extent of race hate crimes in the UK (Burnett, 2016). Moreover, the statistic shows that race hate crime is a major problem that has been ailing the UK over the previous generations. First, the statistics on the number of race motivated hate crimes in England and Wales from 2018 to 2019. In regards to this, London recorded the highest number of 16037 reported race hate crimes while Wales registered the least number of 2676 cases of race hate crimes. The report shows that incidences of race hate crime in the UK is more prevalent in London compare to other regions.

Moreover, from 2016 to 2017, the total number of hate crimes in the UK in the police record was about 80,393 with race base hate contributing about 62685 of the offenses. The statistic shows that race hate crimes contribute largely to the cases reported by the police regarding hate. Race hate violence is based on salient identities that may differ from other kinds of hate crimes more generally because the survivors may be forced to accept that they were targeted because of their visibly salient and commonly stigmatized factors like the color (Craig-Henderson & Sloan, 2003). Since race-based hate crime is based on stigmatized and adversely stereotyped identities, various experiences in addition to exposure to traumatic stressors could serve as psychological triggers that evoke memories linked to personal or group-based identity experiences of a threat to life or mental well-being.  

Racially motivated hate crimes are on the rise in most of the EU member countries. The number of hate crimes reported in the UK has doubled from 2013, according to statistics.  For example, a recent report indicated that London recorded about 1,652 anti-Semitic incidences in 2018 (Burnett, 2016). Besides, a survey conducted in the UK reported that about 91% of respondents had been a victim of verbal abuse. It means that the majority of minority groups are victims of verbal abuse. On the other hand, about 72% of the respondents had experienced a form of harassment like bullying or threatening behavior. The statistic shows that the degree of race hate crime in the UK against minority groups like anti-Semitic and people of color are wanting. Based on this, minority groups are more likely to experience verbal abuse, bullying, or threatening behavior.

However, there exist a rise in the cases of race hate offenses but a reduction in the number of people charged with such crimes.  The Greater Manchester Police recorded about 2,720 and 7,526 of hate crime cases reported in 2013 and 2017, respectively (BBC news, 2019). For example, Northumbria Police recorded the highest number of reports over a period of five-year from 2013 to 2018. It received 578 reports in 2013, rising to 2,173 in 2017 that is equivalent to a 276% increase. Contrary to this, there exist a decline in the number of people charged with race hate offenses in England and Wales. A good example is Stephen Lawrence’s murder, especially on how racism influenced the investigation (McGhee, 2005).  Stephen Lawrence was a victim of race-based hate crime that resulted in his death. The police was biased and failed to perform the investigation efficiently leading to MacPherson report.

The general trend seen in the UK is the increasing report of race hate crime offense when some events occur referendum and terrorist attacks. McGhee posits that there is clear evidence that the recording race hates crime offenses increases at certain times and usually coincides with some national and global events like terrorist attacks, among others. In addition, given a high media focus on the European Union referendum, one can acknowledge that from April 2016, there has been a constant increase in the number of these recorded offenses, from 189 to about 240-recorded cases. This, in turn, increased steadily to 309 cases in June the month of the referendum and the decision to leave the European Union, rising to about 338 the month after. On the other hand, from June the numbers are reducing though it is still high.

Barriers to reporting Race hate crimes

The barriers to race hate crime-reporting fall in two main areas; factors are discouraging victims from reporting to police and elements that lead to incidents not reported. The first barrier is the perception that nothing will happen. Most victims of race hate crime lack confidence that law enforcement or government officials will take appropriate actions to respond to their report. Anthias (1999) illustrates how the criminal justice system in the UK did not find justice for the killing of Stephen Lawrence. According to the Anthias, the lack of coordinated actions and documentation were the main barriers in the Stephen Lawrence case. The fallout in the case regarding the murder of Stephen Lawrence has created a perception that the criminal justice system does not work effectively in race-based hate crimes.

The next barrier for reporting race hate crime is mistrust or the fear of the police. The victims who belong to a minority group in the UK, such as people of color who have gone through harassment and lack of protection by the police may not want to have any contact with the police. For some time in Britain, people from ethnic minority communities were perceived as the aggressors or rather the primary issue in society hence contributing to race hate crime. Ben Bowling and Coretta Philips (2002) explains how people from ethnic minority communities are mostly targeted in the criminal justice system. It means that instead of the criminal justice system to protect the victims, they ride on the perception that some communities are as violent and dishonest in society. In regards to this, most victims are still afraid of reporting the race hate crimes to the police because of the high possibility of being stigmatized as a criminal.

Moreover, the other barrier to reporting race hate crime is fear of retaliation. Most victims of race hate crimes fear to report a crime believing that perpetrators or others with the same view will retaliate against them, their families, and even the community. The race hate crime perpetrators are usually affiliated to some groups, especially the majority in the UK, while the victims usually belong to a minority group such as people of color. Based on this, there is a possibility of perpetrators and their group retaliating upon such reports. It is worth noting that the victims of race hate crimes would prefer not to report the incidents to evade any retaliatory attack from the perpetrators.

The other barrier for not reporting is that police or other government authorities might discourage victims of race hate crimes from filling complaint form. There are some instances where victims who prepared to file a complaint could be deterred from doing so since police officers tell them not to or tell them that identifying hate is not appropriate for a complaint. In some instances, some police in the UK could assert that a crime was a prank, and nothing would come of a formal complaint. Ben Bowling and Coretta Philips (2002) majors on the problems that people from ethnic minority groups are facing in society today. They also investigated why race-based hate crimes reported are not taken seriously as well as the history of how some people from ethnic majority groups have had their perception of minority groups. Therefore, some of the police do not take reports on race hate crime seriously. McGhee reports and emphasizes the mistreatment directed to people of ethnic minority and why the police should be blamed. The police did not perform the appropriate procedure while investigating.

Issues on policing of race hate crimes

Most of the race hate crime policing in the UK is framed around race. In England and Wales, the police were allowed to record all forms of hostility as a hate crime together with the existing hate crimes such as race. This has led to several police forces changing their policy areas not covered, such as alternative subcultures. The policies have allowed police force in the UK to foster their approach to attain local requirements resulting to an increase awareness of the focus on minority groups. However, in Northern Ireland, the Trans people lack any form of specific legal protection regarding hate crimes. It means that legislation on race hate crimes in the UK does not provide equal protection to a victim.

Moreover, the Law Commission carried out an analysis in 2014 on the current hate crime policies in the UK. The commission determined that the unequal provision of race hate crime policies creates a wrong impression on the effect of such offending as well as the seriousness with which it is being handled and requested the authorities to perform an analysis of hate crime policing. Most of the hate crime laws do not offer full support to all victims in the UK, mainly from minority communities. Therefore, the lack of equal representation in terms of policing for victims of race hate crimes has adversely influenced how the investigation was performed.

However, among the central strength of race hate crime policing is the fact that it is established on a victim-based model. Race hate crime policy define the factor in recording a case as a hate offense is the view of a victim and other people like witnesses of the case or a family member rather than the view of the investigating police (Antjoule, 2013). Furthermore, the victim does not need to offer evidence to support their view, and authorities should avoid a direct challenge to the view. Re-structuring the policy in such a way provides priority to the views of the victim rather than the officer investigating the case. The policy aims to promote and restore trust and confidence among minority groups and to improve the number of victims reporting hate crimes.

Regardless of the strength of policing on race hate crime in the UK, the victims are usually unhappy with how the police handle the case. For example, the police disappointed ‘Grace,’ who was a victim of racial abuse online. She was told that the perpetrators were not racist but ‘immature’ and that it was only a prank. In addition, the Crime Survey for England indicated that general race-based hate crime victims are less likely to be satisfied with the police reaction based on fairness and efficiency. From 2012 and 2015, about 52% of victims were not fully satisfied with the management of the case.

Media representation of Race hate crimes in the UK

The media plays an important role in driving the perception of race hate crimes among different communities in the UK. According to Ferguson, the media has failed to reflect the reality for fear of driving hate among communities living in the country. From BBC News, “race hate crimes accounted for around three-quarters of offenses (78,991) and rose by 11% on the previous year.” Based on this, it is true that race-based hate crimes increased. However, the media have failed to record that criminal justice system agents have championed the increase in race-based hate crimes towards minority groups in the UK. For example, the media was unable to cover the fact that the death of Stephen Lawrence was due to race hate crime.

Conclusion

Race-based hate crime is prevalent in the UK. Race hate crime has hurt the victim and their families, but it also influences how communities on cohesion, tension as well as the fear of crime. Race-based hate crime has flooded the UK from one generation to the next that seemed to be directed towards the minority communities like people of color. Furthermore, data obtained from 2016 to 2017 shows that the sum of hate crimes in the UK in the police’s record was about 80,393 with race based hate contributing about 62685 of the offenses. However, with the rise in the number of race-based hate crime, the police in the UK are still reluctant to offer justice the victims. The statistic shows that race hate crimes contribute largely to the cases reported by the police regarding hate are not solved as anticipated by victims. Therefore, race-based hate crime is the most common hate crime in the public domain based on statistics and numbers because the majority of people fall victim to this hate crime.

References

Anthias, F. (1999) ‘Institutional Racism, Power and Accountability’ in Sociological Research Online. 4(1):  www.socresonline.org.uk/4/lawrence/anthias.html

Antjoule, N. (2013). The Hate Crime Report. Galop.

BBC News (2019). Hate crimes recorded by police up 10%. Retrieved from; https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-50054915

 Bourne, J. (2001) ‘The life and times of institutional racism,’ in Race and Class. 43(2): 7-22 

Burnett, J. (2016) ‘Racial violence and the Brexit state,’ Institute of Race Relations. [Online] Available at http://www.irr.org.uk/app/uploads/2016/11/Racial-violence-and-the-Brexit-state-final.pdf

Bowling, B. and Phillips, C. (2002) Racism, Crime, and Justice. England: Pearson

Britain, G., & Law Commission. (2014). Hate crime: should the current offenses be extended?. Stationery Office. http://www.lawcom.gov.uk/project/hate-crime/

Corcoran, H., Lader, D., & Smith, K. (2015). Hate Crime, England and Wales. Statistical bulletin, 5, 15.

Ferguson, K. (2016). Countering violent extremism through media and communication strategies. Reflections, 27, 28.

Funnell, C. (2015). Racist hate crime and the mortified self: An ethnographic study of the impact of victimization. International review of victimology, 21(1), 71-83.

Garland, J., & Funnell, C. (2016). Defining hate crime internationally: Issues and conundrums. The Globalisation of Hate: Internationalising Hate Crime, 15-30.

McGhee, D. (2005) Intolerant Britain? Hate, Citizenship, and Difference. Berkshire: Open University Press (Chapter 1) (Available as an e-book)

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