A new app to make it easier for victims to report hate crime online is one of a raft of new measures aimed at tackling hate crime in the capital to be unveiled by the Deputy Mayor for Policing And Crime, Stephen Greenhalgh tomorrow (3 December).
The Mayor’s Hate Crime Reduction Strategy has been developed by the Mayor’s Office for Policing And Crime (MOPAC) in close consultation with key partners including the Metropolitan Police Service, the Crown Prosecution Service and Ministry of Justice, as well as voluntary and community organisations across the capital.
It sets out plans to boost confidence across all communities in reporting hate crime, develop ways to prevent offences and reduce repeat victimisation and outlines how agencies can work together to ensure swift and sure justice for victims. Hate crime is defined as any criminal offence which is perceived, by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by a hostility or prejudice based on a personal characteristic, specifically race, religion/ faith, sexual orientation, disability and transgender identity.
According to recent statistics, since 2012, hate crime relating to faith has increased by 23.4%, transgender hate crime has grown by 86.2% and homophobic crime has gone up by 26.8%. This compares to the slightly lower increases in disability hate crime (12.5%), and racist and religious crime (19.7%).
Throughout the 12-week consultation on the plan, the challenge of under-reporting was consistently highlighted by all communities. The strategy therefore sets out plans to increase awareness of hate crime in London and encourage more people to come forward about their experiences. One of the ways identified through the consultation of improving confidence to report was the creation of online reporting tools. As a result of this the Mayor has commissioned the development of a new online hate crime reporting app, which will be piloted in 2015.
The growing problem of online hate crime was also raised with faith groups particular affected. Tell MAMA, the national Muslim hate crime support service, reported that 80 per cent of the reports it now receives are about online hate crime.
As a result of this, MOPAC is working with the MPS to incorporate online hate crime into its wider work to tackle cyber-crime, offering victims of online hate crime equal status as victims of other types of cyber-crime. This, it is hoped, will give confidence to those affected to come forward and report.
One of the key aims of the strategy is to ensure resources are deployed where they are most needed to reduce hate crime, stop repeat victimisation and support those who have been affected. With the Met Police and other partners, MOPAC is working to identify the top 10 hate crime hot spots in London and ensure that these areas are receiving the resources they need. They will also be used to reassure communities that the police and partners are taking their concerns seriously.
The Met, the Crown Prosecution Service and wider criminal justice agencies will also be undertaking enhanced training to create a more victim centred response to hate crime, ensure effective recording, charging and prosecution of hate crime perpetrators. And for the first time in the UK an annual survey, carried out by MOPAC, will measure the satisfaction of hate crime victims right across the criminal justice system giving all those involved a clear picture of what is working and what needs improvement.
The Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, Stephen Greenhalgh, said: “London is one of the most diverse cities in the world and one of the safest with crime falling across the capital. However far too often people become targets of hate simply because of who they are or what they look like. The Mayor and I are committed to tackling hate crime in all its forms, online and in person. This strategy, supported by the Met, the criminal justice system and partners across the board sets out how we plan to do just that and ensure that everyone in London is free to live without fear.”
Commander Mak Chishty, MPS lead for hate crime, said: ‘The Metropolitan Police Service is committed to tackling hate crime in all its forms. We have long since recognised the impact of hate crime on communities and the hidden nature of this crime, which remains largely under reported. We are always seeking ways to increase reporting and this strategy presents exciting new opportunities which will make it much easier for victims to come forward with confidence and report hate crime.”
Baljit Ubhey OBE, Chief Crown Prosecutor for CPS London, said: “I welcome this Hate Crime Reduction Strategy. Where hate crime occurs it is important that there is confidence that we will deal effectively when prosecuting hate crime offenders. The value of this strategy is in its partnership working and the Crown Prosecution Service is committed to working with our key partners from across the voluntary and public sectors to tackle hate crime effectively. “