News In Focus
Public urged to report hate crime as figures rise
Independent charity Crimestoppers is urging members of the public to report instances of hate crime across Scotland, as both it and the Equality Network report disturbing new figures of the frequency of hate-based incidents.
Over the period May-September 2017, Crimestoppers experienced an 88% increase in calls and contacts relating to hate crime in Scotland compared to December 2016-April 2017. These included a 50% increase as regards Islamophobia, and a 40% increase relating to racism.
Also today, the Equality Network published research that finds that 60% of LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex) people in Scotland have experienced hate crime multiple times, and 20% have experienced it more than 10 times.
The Scottish LGBTI hate crime report 2017, based on a detailed survey of 1,445 people in Scotland, has been published in advance of Hate Crime Awareness Week which starts on 14 October. It reveals that two thirds of LGB (lesbian, gay and bisexual) people, and four fifths of trans people, have experienced hate crime targeted at them. In nine out of 10 cases they experienced more than one hate crime, while 18% of LGB people and 30% of trans people have experienced more than 10 hate crimes.
The most frequent types of hate crime experienced were verbal abuse and threats, followed by physical attack, online abuse and sexual assault. The most common location for hate crime was in the street, followed by public venues such as pubs and cafes.
Similarly, Crimestoppers states that victims may be subjected to physical assaults or suffer damage to their property. They may also experience the threat of an attack or verbal abuse.
"Hate crime is thought to be massively underreported," Crimestoppers stated, "which is why we are urging the public to come forward. Many people accept some incidents as ‘part of life’ and do not realise that the abuse they are suffering or witnessing is a crime. They may also mistakenly believe that nothing will be done about it."
Angela Parker, national manager for Crimestoppers, said: “We urge anyone who has information about the perpetrators of this crime to contact us 100% anonymously. We understand it’s not easy to step up and report someone, especially if they’re a close friend or family member, but we do not take personal details and we can’t trace information given to us by phone or online. No-one will ever know you contacted us.
“We’re a charity that gives people the power to speak up to stop crime. We won’t ask for any personal details including your name. When you hang up the phone (0800 555 111) or click ‘send’ (crimestoppers-uk.org) you’re done. No police, no witness statements or courts.”
The Equality Network research found that most hate crime is not reported to police: 71% of LGBTI people who experienced hate crimes did not report any of them to the police, and only 5% reported all of them. Reasons given were thinking that the crime was 'not serious enough', believing nothing would be done, hearing of others’ poor experiences after reporting, and fear of the consequences.
However, when people do report hate crime, more of them are satisfied with the help they get from the police than was the case a few years ago, with 41% satisfied and 39% dissatisfied. But where the crime they experienced was prosecuted, only one quarter were satisfied with their interaction with the procurator fiscal and with the court, and half were dissatisfied.