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Hate crime - a specific response?
 Simon Davison

Simon Davison

Hate crime - a specific response?

In late 2018, we supported a client with a very personal case, being a victim of hate crime. Due to their background, they had been subject to very personal threats and harassment by an individual, starting with verbal threats, moving on to online stalking of the victim and her family, and escalating to waiting outside her home address and making threats.

Clearly this is a terrifying ordeal for the client, who had reported this matter to the police with a variety of responses. We supported the client in gathering all the evidence together into one package, and conducted counter surveillance in order to locate the suspect when he attended the home address. As a result, the suspect was arrested and imprisoned.

Recent media articles have indicated that the level of hate crimes reported has doubled over the last five years. The Home Office has said that this was largely due to improvements in the way that police record hate crime, and there can be no denying that an increase in awareness of this issue is a good thing, encouraging victims to come forward and report these incidents. A Guardian article made the correlation between the rise in hate crime with the Brexit vote, and a BBC article indicated that incidents spiked following a major incident with a perceived link with a minority group.

Hate crime has no place in our society, and a robust approach must be taken, regardless of the location, nature of the offence, and the identify of the offenders.

Unfortunately, the background to this crime type is a decrease in resources available to the police and CPS, and an increase in other crime. The adage of ‘plate spinning’ for law enforcement is more apt than ever, and inevitably some offences slip between the gaps.

In order to effectively mitigate against Hate Crime, for businesses, individuals and organisations, there needs to be proper prevention and planning, and an effective response. Organisations can take steps to ensure that any hate crime is not tolerated – training and awareness for staff is vital, and having processes in place to record, report and respond to any such incidents will build trust within the company and ensure that if an incident takes place, the company is ready to respond accordingly.

For individuals concerned about this, ensuring you have maintained your online security, such as ensuring your social media profiles are private and devices are updated to the most recent settings, will assist in preventing targeting.

If an individual is targeted in this way, then early reporting to law enforcement is recommended, to prevent any escalation and to ensure that steps can be taken to prevent further offences taking place. It is important to make sure that all the evidence is gathered prior to liaising with the police – this will ensure that less time is taken in the police investigation, they have all the material required to understand the nature of the offences and assess any risk, and gathering the evidence expeditiously will lead to a much faster police response and prosecution.

There may be incidents where the police are unable to assist with an investigation. In these cases, a private prosecution may be a consideration in order to seek justice.

A private prosecution is an avenue for individuals and organisations to take; in these cases, experienced investigators would gather the evidence and material, which would be assessed by specialist lawyers to ensure that there is a realistic prospect of conviction and to proceed is in the public interest. If the evidence passes this two-stage test, then an application can be made to court for a summons. The defendant then enters the judicial system, and if found guilty can be sentenced and orders imposed as per a state run prosecution.

A robust approach to any hate crime is vital; AnotherDay can support with any stage to ensure you keep safe what matters most.