A briefing to explain what hate crime is, how it can be identified, and how to respond
Sadly, hate crime against refugees is a very real problem. Although it is not by any means a common occurrence, it is something that is encountered all too frequently.
However, it is something that the UK authorities now take very seriously. There are various ways in which incidents can be reported, and clear procedures on how they should be handled by the authorities.
Whilst uncommon, the refugees you support as a Community Sponsorship group may be at risk of becoming victims of hate crime. Although hate crimes against refugees are not a common occurrence in the UK, they do happen, so it’s important that you and the family you support are informed and aware of how to approach this situation.
A hate crime is defined by the perpetrator’s motivation for attacking or abusing their victim. An incident becomes a hate incident when the victim believes that they were targeted due to their race, religion, sexual orientation or disability. This includes verbal abuse, physical harm, property damage or online abuse. As a Community Sponsorship group supporting refugees, your group members could also be targeted so it’s important for you and the family you support to know how to identify and report hate incidents.
We’ve created this resource to form the basis of a conversation with the refugees you support to explain what a hate crime is, and how they can report it. Naturally, you may want to introduce this topic sensitively so you do not alarm them and adopt language that you feel is appropriate for the situation.
We would stress that it is important to raise this subject with refugees. Failure to do so could lead to incidents going unreported, the situations escalating, or refugees feeling that these situations are just something they need to tolerate. In fact, hate crimes or hate motivated incidents may have been normalised or a common occurrence against refugees in the host country they’ve been resettled from.
We suggest having this conversation with the family soon after their arrival as part of their orientation to the UK, perhaps when discussing common legal issues such as smoking indoors or wearing a seatbelt.
Your responsibility as a Community Sponsorship group will be to help refugees contact the authorities and make your Home Office contact officer aware of the incident, as being subjected to a hate crime is classified as a case of interest.
Hate Crime in Scotland
Hate Crime in Scotland is defined as a “Crime motivated by malice or ill will towards a social group by:
- Sexual orientation
- Transgender/gender identity (Offences (Aggravated by Prejudice) Act 2010)”
Police Scotland have guidance on reporting and identifying hate crime.
Victims of hate crime can report it to the police directly, but if they do not feel comfortable speaking to the police, they can contact a third party reporting centre who will help them to report hate crime.
Briefing the family about hate incidents
We recommend beginning the conversation by making it clear that the family is welcome in their new community and also that they are in a relatively safe country with a police force they should not be afraid to contact when needed. But like all countries, crimes do occur and when they do, they should notify the authorities.
There are particular crimes, hate incidents, where perpetrators target victims due to their race, religion, sexual orientation or disability. Not all hate incidents amount to criminal offences but when a police force decides a criminal offence has occurred, the incident would be recorded as a “hate crime.”
Authorities in the UK take reports of hate crimes and other hate-related incidents seriously. For instance, a conviction for a criminal offence based on prejudice about someone’s identity could lead to a longer criminal sentence than a similar criminal offence that is not based on such prejudice.
We advise refugees that, if you feel that you are the victim of a hate crime or hate incident, or witness one, ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you think race, religion, sexual orientation, disability were factors?
- Did the perpetrator say or do anything to make you feel the incident was related to one of these factors?
- Were other people who do not share these characteristics targeted in the same way?
If anyone else, or a witness could perceive the incident to have been motivated by one of these characteristics it could be considered a hate incident or hate crime. A victim of a hate crime does not need to provide evidence of why they think it falls into this category – simply reporting that they perceive it as motivated by hate is enough for it to be recorded in this way. However, it may be useful to use specific examples of what was said or think about why they believe it was motivated by these factors.
It’s important to report hate crimes or incidents to the police so that the authorities are aware of the scale of hate motivated events in the area. For example, the number of reports of hate incidents and hate crimes reported in a particular area can lead to an increase in the police presence and other measures to stop these incidents from occurring.
How to report a hate incident or hate crime:
- In an emergency, report it to the police by phoning 999. Refugees will always be able to access interpreters when calling emergency services by saying their language to the operator.
- If it is not an emergency, you can report it to the police by dropping into a local police station, by calling 101, or by visiting the website report- it.org.uk
- If you want to remain anonymous, you can report the incident to a charity called Crimestoppers by calling 0800 555 111 or visiting their website crimestoppers-uk.org
- There might be “hate crime reporting centres”, also known as “third party reporting centres” in your neighbourhood. Community Sponsorship groups should research where their nearest centre is.
Refugees do not need to wait for the support of group members to report incidents and should be empowered to do so themselves. All police stations and phone lines can and should provide interpreters to enable them to access their services. If refugees feel they would like to seek your support after experiencing a hate crime or incident, you can advise them to contact the police in the first instance, and also to inform your group, as you would want to be able to support them throughout the reporting process and to deal with the aftermath of the incident.
You may need to explain to the family that they should be treated fairly and ethically by police in the UK, and that reporting incidents and crimes to the authorities will not affect their immigration status or any other rights and entitlements. Keep in mind that they may come from a country where the police or other authorities are more likely to cause problems rather than solve them.
Resources available in Arabic
You can find further information about hate crimes and how to report them in a variety of languages on the Stop Hate UK website stophateuk.org/languages
For any Arabic speaking families, you can also present information to the family in Arabic about dealing with racist crimes in chapter seven of the “Welcome to the UK” booklet that the family receive during their cultural orientation course in their host country. You can also access the booklet in English and Arabic here on our website.