Amnesty: police need more training in hate crime

Kate Allen

Amnesty International has called for improved training for police into how to deal with hate crime and for a review of the hate crime legal framework as it publishes a new briefing Against Hate: Tackling hate crime in the UK.

The briefing, produced following a study by the University of Leicester, is a review of existing legislation and case studies from victims of hate crime, and is being published on the one-year anniversary of the European Union Referendum vote.

It highlights a 42 per cent rise in hate crime in the two weeks either side of last year’s referendum, mainly against members of minority ethnic and faith communities, new migrants, asylum seekers and refugees.

The research showed that many hate crime victims are not reporting abuse, and the training of police officers across the country is inconsistent, leaving some ill-prepared in identifying and investigating cases, and therefore leading to a low conviction rate.

The report includes case studies of disturbing hate crime based on disability, race, religion, sexual orientation, and transgender identity – plus sectarian-motivated hate crimes in Northern Ireland.

Kate Allen, director of Amnesty UK, said: “The rise of hate crime in the UK is of significant concern for a number of reasons – and the time is now to put a stop to it. This is a problem that is both under-reported and under-resourced.

“Every year hundreds of thousands of people in the United Kingdom are attacked and harassed – physically or verbally – because they are perceived as ‘different’.

“All people of all identities should be able to go about their lives in peace, without the fear of being abused or harassed by those who seek to sow hatred and division.

“In recent weeks, attacks in London and Manchester have attempted to undermine the very fabric of our society. In their wake, we have seen reports of a rise in demonising language and dangerous comments that can cause real harm to real people. Now, more than ever, we must stand together against this hatred.

“We are now calling for police to receive increased training in how to respond to hate crime and support victims, for more resources to assist investigation and prosecution, and for more awareness in how victims can report hate crimes.”