Hate Crime Initiative Launch
On Monday 10th May 2014 I was proud to attend the launch of the Wales Hate Crime Initiative: Framework for Action, having been very much involved in the consultation process that has informed its development. The Wales Hate Crime Initiative: framework for action has come about through a consultation process which recognised that there are still pockets of prejudiced attitudes and discrimination within our culture and that this doesn’t fit with the vision of a modern and prosperous Wales.
Hate Crime: Identity based hate
Living in fear of assault, or under constant threat because of your identity, harms peoples’ health and cannot be acceptable in a civilised society. Sadly, we do still see people assaulted and picked on because of their race; gender; sexual orientation; faith; ethnicity, age or for having a disability. The framework offers a series of strategies to address the causes of hate crime and empower victims to report and tackle hate based incidents and hate crimes more confidently in the future. The framework offers the potential to create a safer and better Wales for everyone, a place where ‘difference’ does not mean disadvantage or discrimination, where our ultimate aspiration would be that no one would live in fear.
Jeff Cuthbert AM – gave an impassioned speech where he called for “cultural changes so that future generations can live in a Wales that is equal, fair and welcoming to people from different background and cultures”. He made it clear that the intention and expected outcome of the hate crime initiative would be that people could become more confident that “action will be taken” when reporting hate incidents and hate crimes, adding that here in Wales, “A culture where victims feel that they have to suffer in silence will no longer be tolerated”
Setting out the Welsh Assembly’s position on hate based discrimination, he said,
“we want our young people and children to grow up in a Wales where people are accepted for who they are and not judged because of the colour of their skin, their religion their sexual orientation, their gender identity, their disability or their age”
A key part of the initiative has been designed to overcome current blocks to reporting hate incidents and hate crimes. It is recognised that if we are successful in this there will be a sharp increase in the number of recorded incidents initially as we know currently figures for hate incidents are badly underreported and represent only the tip of the iceberg.
A theatre company will be touring a play around schools in Wales to help encourage hate crime reporting.
An important aspect of the new initiative is the introduction of a ‘third party reporting system’ so that people who want to make anonymous reports can do so via Victim Support allowing the data to come forward where previously fear has held people back. Through an increased understanding of where hate incidents and hate crimes occur will come the potential to increase support and resources to address pockets of difficulty.
Gypsy, Roma and Traveller discrimination
The consultation process drew on representatives from a number of disadvantaged groups affected by hate crime: an often overlooked aspect of race based discrimination is that which the Gypsy, Roma and Irish traveller community experience. A short film was presented which gave young people from these communities a chance to talk about some of their experiences of hatred and prejudice. It has been argued that it is the one remaining racism that society tolerates and its time for that to change.
Hate Crime: Intersectionality of Disadvantage.
A speaker from the asylum seeker project talked about intersectionality – the way that sometimes several aspects of a persons identity lead them to be discriminated against – sometimes compounding the prejudice. This was particularly pertinent in the context of their work with asylum seekers, whose asylum seeker status often comes about through discrimination in their home country but where they find that media reporting of their narratives often seems to collude with the idea that it is acceptable to feel hatred towards them. A series of newspaper headlines were shown that illustrated just how harmful and destructive this can get. It’s not just UKIP that has the problem here.
Hate Crime: Give racism the red card
The final speaker was former professional football player, Christian Roberts, who spoke about some of his experiences of both being subject to and witnessing race based discrimination and homophobia in sport including explicit prejudice and bullying by his own team mates.
The Tackling Hate Crimes & Incidents: Framework for Action can be downloaded via this link