Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, is recognising Hate Crime week (10-17 October) and the impact that these crimes have on vulnerable people by sharing how she has supported education in our community at a time when hate crime is on the rise.
Bedfordshire has seen over 950 recorded hate related incidents across Bedfordshire since the beginning of the year. Bedfordshire Police has responded by taking positive steps to ensure reporting this crime is easier for the victim, which includes third party reporting. If you have been affected, or know someone else who has been targeted, and would like to report it to the police, please ring 101 or access assistance through the online service at www.bedfordshire.police.uk. If you prefer to report hate crime through a different agency than the police service please visit the website and search for Hate Crime, where there is a list of third-party organisations who can take the initial report.
The law states ‘A hate incident occurs when the victim or anyone else believes it was motivated by the offender being hostile based on disability, race, religion, transgender identity or sexual orientation. The hate incident becomes a crime if it crosses the boundary of criminality.’ This definition is what the dedicated Hate Crime Prevention Team at Bedfordshire Police use to uphold their duties.
Bedfordshire Police’s Hate Crime Lead, Sergeant Car Perri, said: “Hate crime can have a disproportionate affect on victims and the wider community, than other crimes of a similar nature.
“Hate crime figures are increasing year on year as confidence to report grows.
As a Police service nationally, this year has seen unique challenges with divided opinion and changing community dynamics. As a force we have to be responsive to community concern and deal with incidents with empathy, professionalism and efficiency.”
PCC Holloway commissioned the Anne Frank Trust to work in schools across Bedfordshire to challenge prejudice and discrimination, creating Hate Crime Ambassadors among the pupils in each school receiving their training, which is based on the life of Anne Frank and her death in a concentration camp during World War II.
“It’s frankly appalling that some seventy-five years on from the Second World War the message that hate and prejudice are based on ignorance and are not just words but the root of an insidious idea that can build to destroy lives still needs to be landed. In our schools, teachers and youth workers need to challenge the unkinking assumptions that lie behind mindless hatred of others who are seen as in some way ‘different’ given our common humanity.
“This is particularly crucial in Bedfordshire which has seen both extremes of extreme right wing and jihadist movements, both of which are based on the hatred of ‘different’ communities, lifestyles and cultures rather than mutual respect which is what equality means in any balanced and well-rounded society.
“I genuinely strive to be a Commissioner for all the communities of Bedfordshire, excepting only the minority of non-representative individuals who take extreme positions and engender hatred, and where I can I support education around hate crime and provide early interventions in order to prevent incidents that are rooted in hate,” said Commissioner Holloway.
Using a variety of thought-provoking topics, training for mediators and teacher training materials, the Anne Frank Trust deliver workshops to support and educate those who have the potential to become either victims or potential offenders in the future.
Sarah Nuzum, Director of Education at The Anne Frank Trust, said: “Covid-19 has exacerbated inequalities and social divisions in many ways. We know that hate crimes have continued to increase, not only in number, but also in their depth and complexity. As young people come back together at school after lockdown, teaching Restorative justice is so important in enabling them to develop skills such as active listening and empathy - so they can appreciate how words or actions can impact others. Being able to resolve conflict before it escalates is an essential life skill, and vital in the prevention of hate crime.”
If you have experienced hate crime and need support as a result, Signpost is the service for victims of crime in Bedfordshire. Its Victim Care Coordinators are trained to support those suffering from hate-related crimes or incidents and can be spoken to confidentially on freephone 0800 0282 887. Alternatively, support services can be accessed directly across Bedfordshire by visiting www.signpostforbedfordshire.com for further information.