Hi, my name is Andrew. I’m proud to have worked for Stop Hate UK for 6 years and have had varied roles within the organisation and am currently Partnerships and Contracts Manager; I believe it’s really important to work with other agencies to ensure victims can receive the best support possible.
Central to everything we do at Stop Hate UK are the people who take that, often difficult, first step to tell somebody about the hostility they are facing and the impact it has had on their lives. When somebody does contact us via one of our helplines, our team, who are there throughout the day and night, offer the very best of help – giving service users the time to explain what they have been going through, listen to how they have been affected and discuss what help they need to stop the abuse and allow them to move on from the abuse they have been facing. We discuss the different options that are available to provide support and offer referrals to specialist organisations. Whilst I am sure the direct emotional and practical support we offer is of great assistance to victims, I equally recognise the value of the services offered by partner agencies and how by working together using a holistic approach we can ensure that the best possible support is provided.
So who are the partners we work with and what makes the partnerships work effectively? We work with not only with statutory agencies such as local authorities, the police and Police and Crime Commissioners but also with other national and local voluntary sector agencies, community groups, social housing providers and specialist service providers.
So how do we ensure our partnerships work effectively? Effective partnership working relies on a number of factors:
Having a common objective – This goes back to the essence of why we are all here – we’re here to support victims, families and communities who are affected by discrimination and hostility. Partnership working allows us to concentrate and focus our efforts on specific objectives and outcomes jointly with other agencies who are delivering complementary services.
Understanding partner agencies – Every organisation is different. They have their own vision, aims, unique story and identity, culture, ethos, way of doing things and provide a range of specialisms and services. Different agencies will have differing service delivery targets and funding mechanisms. Also, organisations are made up of people – so it is important to understand the structures in place within partner organisations and the role and remit of key contacts within the organisations. Having this understanding enables us to show respect to other agencies and develop relationships that are constructive and deliver outcomes for victims that allow each organisation to achieve their overall objectives and together provide the support that is needed by people.
Knowing your place in the partnership – Working in partnership is similar to building a jigsaw puzzle; individual organisations, the pieces, are put together and when complete, produce an outcome, effective support for victims that enables them to cope and recover – a picture. When a piece of the jigsaw is missing, for instance – an organisation providing their unique and specialist services, the outcome may not be as good as it could have been. For example, Stop Hate UK could (and do!) provide the very best of reporting and support services via our helplines and dedicated team; but, if we were not able to work with partners delivering specific and specialist services such as – the Police who can investigate incidents, housing providers who can respond to tenant issues, voluntary agencies who can provide ongoing emotional support, advocacy assistance etc. , we would be less likely to provide the victims with outcomes that fully meet their needs.
Trust – Ultimately partnerships rely on trust. An understanding that agencies within the partnership deliver effective services; some partners may be better placed to deliver tailored support to the person who has been affected by Hate Crime than others – other partners need to be willing to refer or signpost on when appropriate. Partners need to be comfortable sharing information to ensure services work effectively and able to have constructive discussions about ways in which individual partners can work better together developing and improving their services further so that service delivery for individual service users is optimised.
So there it is successful partnership working in a nutshell! But, clearly there are pressures that sometimes make things more complicated.
In recent years we have all gone through a period of austerity that has put pressure on organisations; less funding for services leading to fewer staff and in some cases the loss of vital organisations and services. Fewer staff means increased pressure on those remaining – more varied job roles, more work and less time to do it in! Sometimes individual agencies find themselves competing against each other for funding or a higher profile; and sometimes it may feel easier to concentrate on our own core services rather than spend time in meetings with other organisations trying to develop joined up approaches. It’s a viewpoint I guess – but let’s go back to the jigsaw metaphor and ask ourselves “Does my organisation have all the knowledge, skills and abilities, experience, systems, services and time to deliver all the support that a victim of Hate Crime needs?” I know my answer would be no – I and my organisation can play a part, yes we can help – but without other organisations we could never deliver all the outcomes that will help someone truly recover from the impact of hostility.
So can partnership working really work? For us, yes it can. For example, 18 months ago Stop Hate UK were commissioned to provide our Stop Hate Line Service throughout Merseyside. The service is funded by the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) with active support from the Merseyside Criminal Justice Board, their Hate Crime sub-group, Merseyside Police and Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service. In addition to our reporting service, Merseyside Police, the PCC and local authorities across Merseyside have also been active developing and promoting a large number of community based third party reporting centres who signpost people to the helpline. These centres based in housing offices, libraries, museums, local authority offices, fire stations and hospitals. Additionally, funding has been provided to the Anthony Walker Foundation (AWF) to coordinate ongoing advocacy support to victims of Hate Crime. AWF work with other specialist organisations to ensure tailored and holistic support is provided to meet victim’s needs whatever the hate motivation is based on – someone’s disability, faith, gender identity, race, sexual orientation or other aspects of identity. This support is further aided by the referral of cases to multi-agency case review meetings to access assistance from other agencies as appropriate. It is no coincidence to me that, as a result, we have seen a significant increase in reporting both to the Stop Hate Line and direct to the police in Merseyside. Local communities have become more confident reporting incidents and they recognise the coordinated multi-agency activity that is taking place to challenge hostility, increase reporting and support victims.
So, my final thought? When I have to be on a train at 6am in the morning to get to a meeting in a distant part of the country to meet organisations who we work with – do I feel tired? Yes, of course. Is it worthwhile? Yes, of course it is. When those meetings lead to ongoing positive relationships that facilitate joint working to support people who are suffering the impact of discrimination and hostility – it’s a small price to pay!
Hi, my name is Ian and I am the Reporting Analyst at Stop Hate UK. It is my job to collate all the contact data and present it to commissioners and funders in a format that informs about helpline activity but hopefully also enlightens.
I may be responsible for producing the tables and charts, but what drives me are the human stories that sit behind the statistics. For that reason I would like to take this opportunity to explain how I came to be working at Stop Hate UK and how my experiences, particularly within the public sector, have shaped my thinking.
Before joining Stop Hate UK, I served as a police officer for 30 years. I joined in the early 80’s and experienced the racial tensions that sparked disorder across the country and the miner’s strike that were a feature of that time. I am ashamed to say that I was aware of pockets of racial discrimination within the service; mercifully carried out by a small number of individuals but largely unchallenged. The role of police women was seen as secondary and this attitude was reflected in policy and practice towards domestic violence, for example. Tape, and subsequently video, recording of interviews with suspects was a futuristic fantasy and seen by many as unnecessary. Supervision was based on militaristic principles: ‘Don’t ask why I have to jump, just ask how high’, but then ‘It didn’t do me any harm!’
However, it was also a time of significant change for the police service and within a few years it was a totally different working environment; one that required policing and police officers alike to stop and think about the consequences of their collective and individual actions. The murder of Stephen Lawrence was a seminal moment for the police service, and the recommendations within the MacPherson report remain pertinent to this day. The service has continued to change and evolve as a more inclusive and empathetic place to work but it has been a long haul and there is still some way to go in some areas.
I don’t want to sound as if I am somehow ungrateful to my former employers and colleagues because the police service has many more good apples than bad – and it can achieve amazing things when it needs to. There are many colleagues and more senior officers that have inspired me over the years and shaped my thinking and attitude to life probably without knowing it. But it is those early experiences that have the greatest pull on my conscience. For example, being thanked by a black colleague for patrolling with him because his own shift members had refused because of the ‘attention’ he attracted; the female victim of domestic violence who was greeted by a seasoned officer stepping over her prone body to speak to her ‘old man’ about what had happened; another black colleague seeking my help with a case file because it kept getting sent back from his sergeant without any explanation of what was wrong. All these were an affront to my sense of fairness and respect but I didn’t feel able to do anything about it; being white and male I felt part of the problem.
It wasn’t until later in my service, and with a couple of promotions under my belt, that I felt confident enough to make my voice heard. This says more about me than the service of course, as there were many individuals who did stand up and challenge and as a result created an environment within which I could be influential (at least I felt I was!). Towards the end of my time in the police, I was appointed as the diversity lead for the force and had a particular responsibility for tackling Hate Crime. In an attempt to build on the work of my predecessors I recognised that, as a force, we were simply not receiving as many reports of Hate Crime as we should reasonably expect. At that time the force was one of the leaders in re-establishing community based policing; some excellent links had been forged with various communities and minority groups. However, that had inadvertently lead to complacency; it was felt that due to the improving relationship, communities would be confident enough to report matters to us. Of course, this did not take into account the unique nature of Hate Crime in all its forms. Victims of Hate Crime rarely want to ‘make a fuss’ and often minimise what is happening to them so that it simply becomes part of their ‘normality’. Reporting to the police, therefore, is the last thing they would do – worrying that it could lead to reprisals for example – and so continue to suffer in silence.
It was then I came across Stop Hate UK and was impressed by the passion and commitment the organisation showed in tackling Hate Crime. Stop Hate UK’s unique service meant it complemented what was already available in Derbyshire and neatly filled the all too apparent gaps. What set the organisation apart was the 24hr nature of the business; real people not answer phones; the victim centred approach – non-judgmental and with time to listen; the ability to link disparate services for the benefit of the victim; a breadth of ways to access the service – whatever is most appropriate for the victim. These features impressed me and enabled me to find funding to commission the Stop Hate Line service across the county. Those features remain today and in many ways are enhanced (not just because I work for them now!); I‘m pleased to see that the Stop Hate Line is still being used in Derbyshire over 2 years after I retired.
Commissioning of the Stop Hate Line has seen increased reporting and greater awareness of the factors that beset victims of Hate Crime. Statutory and third sector agencies work better together as a result and, most satisfactorily for me, more and more police officers have ‘got it’ and would recognise hate elements without the victim having to raise it and – actively pursue the perpetrators. The time was not without challenges of course; I recall having a heated debate with an experienced detective when I asked for an incident of violence against a person with a learning disability to be marked as a Hate Crime. His view was that ‘we would forever be marking incidents as ‘hate’ because the victim was also a perpetrator and always in trouble with the police. He had failed to make the link that the victim’s learning disability was the reason he was associating with the ‘wrong sort’ and was a key factor in both his offending and victimisation. I am pleased to say he eventually changed his belief, particularly after the CPS prosecutor echoed my arguments, and headed a number of initiatives to increase reporting and recording of Hate Crimes and incidents.
Perhaps the most significant positive impact the Stop Hate Line had within the county was for victims of Disability Hate Crime. The level of reporting Disability Hate Crimes increased and it seemed many people with a disability felt more comfortable using the Stop Hate Line than calling the police. For a long time society has treated disability as a problem and, as a result, attitudes could be aggressive or dismissive at best. I have for a long time been involved with a local Riding for the Disabled group; I have always been affected by the transformation that is often seen – when a child who spends the majority of their time in a wheelchair being literally spoken down to, is suddenly on top of a horse and is now looking down on the world. It is inspiring and at the same time, a sad indictment of society in general. I feel that, in some small way, the Stop Hate Line provided a similar feeling of release for disabled people experiencing Hate Crimes in the county; I hope that doesn’t sound too fanciful but I genuinely believe there is some basis to this thought.
I have rambled on for a while now and not really explained how I eventually came to work for Stop Hate UK. Well simply, an opportunity arose shortly after I had retired and I really felt a need to be part of the team and continue the work I had found worthwhile and rewarding as a police officer. In spite of my horrendous interview technique, I was fortunate to be offered the post of Reporting Analyst! It is a mark of the organisation that the logistical problems, that the place of work and home posed, were so easily resolved. As an employee of Stop Hate UK, I also work on the helpline which is encouraged for all staff and ensures that we all remain focussed on the victim.
I hope you have found my thoughts and experiences interesting at least; perhaps you would like to hear more about statistics, spreadsheets and formulas …………….. oh, where’s everyone gone?!
If you have a job you love, it is said you never have to do a day’s work in your life. Although a cliché, working for Stop Hate UK in my role I would say that is true. As a Helpline Operator, I generally opt to work the ‘graveyard shift’ – working through the night, but the silence of the dawn provides an ideal opportunity to reflect on the issue of hate deeply.
Ask yourself – what must drive a caller to ring Stop Hate UK at 3am when most people are comfortably asleep in their beds. Fear? Anxiety? Worry? Stress? Yes, all of those and many more. Callers who ring the helpline for support and advice may be feeling completely overwhelmed, at breaking point, concerned for their futures and panicking about what the next day will bring. Sometimes I’ll take a call from a person who hasn’t been able to find the strength to tell another soul about their experiences as a victim of hate crime. A person may email us and state that they feel they have exhausted all options and that Stop Hate UK is their last and only option. Many victims are experiencing a confusing mix of emotions; anger, guilt, doubt, helplessness – all of these are understandable and it is normal and valid to feel this way. These types of callers, and all those in between, are reaching out. I’m proud to be able to say that Stop Hate UK can provide a service to these people 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Often we receive feedback that Stop Hate UK is the only service they feel able to seek genuine support from; knowing that we won’t judge or seek to minimize matters, and are completely independent of any other statutory organizations.
You may or may not be surprised to know that my colleagues, who work on the helpline, come from very diverse backgrounds spanning across the equalities strands. Unfortunately, some may have been victims of hate themselves in its varying forms. There can be real barriers to reporting hate crime with a high level of under reporting across most of the hate strands – so to some callers it may make a difference to know that the person who responds to their request for support or advice understands fully. I’m a convert to Islam; with a child on the Autistic Spectrum. I’ve personally been a victim of hate related verbal abuse; have had cigarette butts routinely thrown at me and have had racist graffiti scratched into my front door. I’ve received plenty of comments about my choice of faith and my outward appearance. Clothing in itself cannot be oppressive – but I find being subject to hate and abuse for my choice of clothing highly oppressive, upsetting and disturbing.
My story is not uncommon, and the ways in which people are victimized due to hate-related issues are very diverse; name-calling, vandalism, physical assaults, exclusion, harassment and many more. Much of what we hear from callers is shocking and harrowing, but Stop Hate UK has given me, as an operator, a full and expanding tool-kit of options to suggest and techniques to use to help people who find themselves victims of hate. This enables me to feel confident and well-equipped to support and advise people who contact us across all of the government-recognized hate strands; Disability, Gender Identity, Race, Ethnicity or Nationality, Religion, Faith or Belief and Sexual Orientation. Stop Hate UK would probably wish to expand the categories further, as hate can take a multitude of other forms too; often in ways that manifest from the very subtle up to large institutional level. Because the thing is; hate matters – and Stop Hate UK’s helpline operators genuinely believe this and are committed to challenging hate and discrimination in full. As well as the strands just mentioned we are able to support people who have experienced any kind of hate incident; for example, instances where people believe they have been targeted because of their age or an alternative sub-culture.
A typical shift on the helpline might involve a mixture of contact from callers via the telephone or responding to emails, SMS messages or web-chats. Not generally at the same time but on occasion things can get rather frantic. We’ve tried to remove as many barriers to contact as we can, to encourage access to help and support in as many different ways as possible, to suit peoples own communication preferences. In quieter moments, I tend to check out Stop Hate UK’s Facebook and Twitter pages as this helps me to stay aware of any national or local news related to hate and stay informed of any contentious issues in the media. I’ll also review the crimes and incidents that have been reported to Stop Hate UK over the previous few days. This helps me obtain a general overview, plus keep up to date with regular callers who I might expect to speak to at some point during my shift. These are ‘good practice’ elements of my work and ultimately mean we can provide more informed and accurate advice, but nothing beats Stop Hate UK’s regular exciting training days (the training is good – the food even better!).
Key skills for the job involve being able to calmly communicate with people who may be distressed or vulnerable. It is necessary to extract and record information about incidents and crimes and whilst doing so, act in a professional manner at all times. Great listening skills are needed too, alongside a non-judgmental approach. A lot of what we do involves typing up information onto internal systems to be passed on to the Police or other agencies if the individual requests this (reports can be anonymized too)-so keyboard skills are also a pre-requisite. If you think you have these skills and would like to help, look out for volunteering opportunities on our website.
It is important to outline we do have our limits – and we try to be clear on them as the last thing we would want is to inadvertently give the incorrect advice whilst on shift. I am not a police officer or a solicitor, so I’ll always try and signpost callers with more specific questions to the correct organization where appropriate. We try to adopt a supportive approach, building up quick rapport with callers to help them feel comfortable to discuss the issues they might be facing. I’ve been a helpline operator for four years and would struggle to think of another role which gives such a huge sense of job satisfaction. Stop Hate UK is an organization that I feel really honoured to be part of. Working on the helpline allows us to see, first- hand, the gravity and scale of hate in the UK which is saddening, but the altruistic part of me is happy to know I’m ‘doing my bit’ and trying to make a positive difference. It’s not always easy for people to admit they have been a victim of any sort or seek help, so I always try and reassure people making contact with Stop Hate UK that they have done the right thing – ‘Whatever they call you, call us.’
Clare Humble, 50, from Bedlington, was convicted in 2014 of murdering her disabled partner Peter Hedley in a violent and sustained attack. She was jailed for life last week at Newcastle Crown Court and was told that she will serve a minimum of 20 years in prison. Many views have been expressed about this case by various organisations saying that the murder was not treated as a Disability Hate Crime and if it had been, Humble may have had to serve a minimum of at least 30 years in prison.
It may be that this legal case has highlighted a misapplication of the principles of S.146 which may have resulted in the sentence being unduly lenient – but the truth is we don’t know that this is the case.
Murder is the most serious crime that exists in law but what is lacking in our criminal justice system about Hate Crime is transparency. We believe it is in the public interest that people know on what basis someone has been sentenced. Generally, our system provides for open justice but it is not possible to sit in on every court hearing.
Stop Hate UK therefore call on the Crown Prosecution Service and the Judiciary to routinely make sentencing remarks publicly available in cases of Hate Crime or cases that involve a victim with a protected characteristic.
We believe this is the only way in which members of the public can properly scrutinise whether cases have been properly treated as such.
In our response in 2013 to the Law Commission consultation on extending the existing provisions for Hate Crime offences we called for these changes and I refer the reader to this report particularly paragraph 40, 50 and 73 which are paraphrased here
- Prosecutors should state, from the outset, that they intend to present a case as a S.146 case – or at the earliest opportunity, as the case proceeds.
- We believe this reform should happen regardless of whether a new aggravated offence on the basis of disability is introduced.
We accept that not every crime against a disabled person is based on hostility because of that aspect of their identity. However, we are concerned that too many cases, where the motivating factor is hate based on the victim’s disability, are being considered based on the victim’s apparent vulnerability rather than their disability.
 Section 146 (S.146) Criminal Justice Act 2003. Where the offender has demonstrated hostility because of the victim’s disability or presumed disability or has carried out an act motivated by hostility towards a person’s disability or presumed disability, the court must treat these circumstances as an aggravating factor and must state in open court that the offence was committed in such circumstances.
I’m Graham and I have been a Trustee of Stop Hate UK since February 2014. My interest in hate crime, helplines and third party reporting systems directly relates to my personal experiences and knowledge of hate crime.
My first experience of hate crime was in 1996 when a brick was thrown through the window of a local gay pub whilst a group of friends and I were sitting having a drink.
My second experience was in 1999 when I was walking home from a different gay pub. As I was walking home on the Saturday night I was physically attacked and called poof and queer. I had a bloodied nose and black eye. I got home, bathed my wounds and went to bed. Shocked and horrified that this had happened. The next morning I phoned my best mate, who lived in London, he rushed up to Cambridge to see me and support me. He encouraged me to report it to the police. At the police station I was treated respectfully. After reporting this to the police we went to the pub for lunch. On walking in, people were concerned about my beaten up state. When it was explained what had happened, the rumour circuit went into overdrive. People I didn’t know knew what had happened to me and became nervous for their own safety. Rumours had it that I had been close to death and that I had been cruising – both so not true and very far removed from the truth it was laughable. My attacker was never found.
Following this I have had a range of professional experiences. My career has always been in the area of supporting people to have the right information to develop and grow to their full potential or to overcome events that are acting as barriers to moving forward with life, but it would be no surprise to me that these personal experiences have subconsciously reinforced my career goals and involvement in hate crime reporting projects.
In 2001 I started to work for a local HIV support and sexual health charity as a gay men’s health worker. Part of my duties included looking at all aspects of gay men’s health, not just their sexual health. We understood that issues in one part of life affected other parts. As part of this I worked with Cambridgeshire Police to encourage LGBT organisations to become third party reporting centres, train the staff and volunteers in these venues and promote the venues to the LGBT community.
In 2004 I joined Victim Support, managing their national helpline. Victim Support asked me to participate in a Home Office project group – the Racist Incident Group – which implemented recommendations from the Macpherson Report. I was asked to lead a working group which funded and supported a pilot helpline third party reporting project. It was this project which grew into the Stop Hate UK that we know today. Whilst at Victim Support I participated in hate crime research, delivered hate crime training to staff and volunteers and most importantly supported victims of hate crime.
When I left Victim Support I phoned Rose (CEO of Stop Hate UK,) who I had always had a good relationship with, to discuss my future career. My knowledge of hate crime, third party reporting systems, helplines and volunteer management were snapped up by the Board! Since joining the Board I have supported Stop Hate UK at meetings of the Victim Services Alliance (a group that brings together a wide range of charities and groups supporting victims of crime) and with the funder of the LGB& T stop hate line the Equalities and Human Rights Commission.
My involvement in third party reporting systems does not stop with Stop Hate UK! I now work for a small disability rights charity in Cambridgeshire, where the issue of hate crime against people with disabilities has been identified as an area of concern. As part of my work I have been working with Cambridgeshire Police to raise awareness of the understanding of hate crime and its impact through a new third party reporting project.
In recent times it has been accepted in the media to talk negatively about immigrants, people’s faiths, people with disabilities and LGBT people and their contribution to society. I firmly believe that this has led to an increase in hate incidents and crimes.
Because of this I believe that the work of Stop Hate UK is more important than ever.
Andrew Bolland, Partnerships and Contracts Manager at Stop Hate UK, comments “As a charity Stop Hate UK really value the contribution that Trustees make to the organisation’s work. We have trustees who live across the UK, busy people who offer their time, knowledge and experience at no cost as they recognise the importance of the charity’s work. Trustees like Graham do much more than oversee the governance of the organisation; they can regularly be found offering advice and supporting the management and staff team to develop the services we offer to victims of Hate Crime. Without their contribution Stop Hate UK would not be the able to deliver the range of high quality and innovative services we provide today….on behalf of the staff at Stop Hate UK and our service users…thank you Graham and all the trustees for your on-going contribution to our work!”
April’s blog is by James Gibbs, our Hate Crime Advocate
Hate Crime destroys lives and devastates communities. It is a topic worthy of continued and concerted attention, awareness and action, yet it remains incredibly under reported.
For example, while there has been international revolt at the treatment of LGBT people in Russia as highlighted by media attention around the Sochi Olympics, research from Stonewall estimates that one in six gay people in the UK have experienced homophobic hate crime, yet as many as three in four victims still do not report the incident.
This scale of under-reporting is something we see replicated across all diversity strands, and is an issue that must be tackled if we are to provide consistent action against perpetrators, and better support victims.
Why is Hate Crime going unreported?
The reasons for low Hate Crime report rates are numerous, and far too vast to detail in just one blog entry. Possibly one reason is that Hate Crime is an issue that a lot of people don’t talk about. Perhaps people don’t want to admit that they live in a society where prejudice and discrimination are possible, less so that this can take the form of such targeted victimisation. The Equality and Human Rights Commission also highlights legal and physical security as an issue, with low prosecution rates and concerns about repeat attacks being cited as particular concerns.
But let’s be clear, there are a lot of people who are talking about Hate Crime, and there are a number of organisations who can help in providing advice and support to victims.
Who is talking about Hate Crime?
A lot of the people talking about Hate Crime are people who work directly supporting victims, punishing offenders and encouraging reporting. Police and Crime Commissioners are talking about it with many prioritising hate crime within their strategies and anti-crime plans. Police forces themselves are talking about Hate Crime, with Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) guidance available on Hate Crime, and officers able to record and investigate hate incidents.
The Crown Prosecution Service is also talking about Hate Crime, using various elements of legislation to prosecute offenders and uplift sentences, and the Law Commission gave people the opportunity to discuss extending the aggravated offences in the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 to include where hostility is demonstrated towards people on the grounds of disability, sexual orientation or gender identity as well as race and religion.
Yet Hate Crime is not just an issue solely for the criminal justice system. Tackling Hate Crime is as much about social justice as it is criminal, and it is everybody’s business.
How is the voluntary sector leading on action against Hate Crime?
I’d like to take this opportunity to talk about Hate Crime in the context of the third sector; and in particular, the work that Stop Hate UK does to support victims, raise awareness and encourage reporting. We want to ensure that it is not just those that have direct experience of Hate Crime who are talking about it, but that we are all working towards the stimulation and maintenance of an open and honest public discourse about Hate Crime and discrimination that is accessible and understandable to all.
For those of you who haven’t heard of Stop Hate UK, we are a national charity which provides independent support to victims of Hate Crime. We provide support across the UK to anybody who has experienced Hate Crime because of any aspect of their identity including, but not restricted to, the five monitored equality strands (race/ethnicity, religion/faith, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity).
The Stephen Lawrence Inquiry: Macpherson report findings
We provide training and consultancy work, and we are involved in both national and local campaigns, but a large part of our work involves encouraging and supporting people to talk about and report Hate Crime. The Macpherson report, published following the death of Stephen Lawrence, highlighted the need for people to have a mechanism through which they can report and talk about Hate Crime. In recommendation 16 of his report, Lord Macpherson said that there should be an independent way to do this, and that people should be able to speak somebody outside of the police, 24 hours a day – this is what Stop Hate UK have strived to provide over the past 9 years, and continue to do so.
Where to report Hate Crime
We have 3 helplines
- Stop Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Hate Crime helpline on 0808 801 061
- Stop Learning Disability Hate Crime helpline on 0808 802 1155
- Stop Hate Line on 0800 138 1625 (available in certain areas of the UK).
These helplines are available every minute of every day for people to contact, giving them the opportunity to talk about their experiences, report incidents and access vital support and information through an independent source. We are then able to share information, with consent of course, through to the police, council and local support agencies to ensure ongoing support and action. However, as you will be aware, funding is an ongoing concern and challenge for voluntary sector organisations, and in this respect we are no different. One of the problems that we face in providing this service is that it is only available in pockets of the country where we are funded or commissioned to do so.
You can find out where the Stop Hate Line operates on our website.
And so I’d like to end with a call to action, to all of you reading this blog, to join us in our fight to challenge hate. There are numerous ways you can do this: Follow us on Twitter. Join us on Facebook. Write a piece about Hate Crime for a newsletter or article at work. Volunteer with us to distribute promotional materials and helpline leaflets. The options are endless, but most importantly, talk to us.
Hate Crime is a painful reality for a lot of individuals and communities, so let’s not shy away from this and pretend it doesn’t exist. We should instead be encouraging and supporting people to talk about it, report it and challenge it.
Thank you for reading this blog and talking about Hate Crime. Let’s talk.
Stop Hate UK Advocate James Gibbs talks about the intersection between Hate Crime and Mental Health, and the importance of holistic practice.
It was sunny outside when I took the call. A woman, whose location shall remain unknown to protect her anonymity, had contacted our helpline to report ongoing abuse and harassment she had experienced from neighbours.
“I am the most hated woman in the street” she told me with absolute certainty. Her neighbours had even told her so to her face, and she spent over thirty minutes explaining how almost ten years of hatred had led her to this belief.
She told me how she had been the victim of regular verbal abuse, noise nuisance and malicious allegations and that as far as she could see; the only reason for this victimisation was the fact that she had diagnosed mental health problems – “the local nutter” as people referred to her.
“I used to like the sunshine, but I don’t go out of the house anymore for fear of what they will throw at me next”
We take a lot of calls from people with mental ill health.
Most recent Government statistics show 1,985 reports of disability Hate Crime during 2013-14. In the same year, Stop Hate UK took 459 reports where disability was a motivating factor. A large proportion of these were related to mental illness, and whilst every one of these people will have their own experiences and their own stories, it never ceases to amaze me how many similarities there are.
One of the most striking similarities that I have seen working on the helpline is illustrated in the alarming frequency with which we take calls from people like the lady above; targeted because of mental ill health, victimised by those around them, but further victimised by a system and a culture that keeps them stuck in the middle for years on end, constantly searching for an outcome that both reflects the impact of their mental illness and tackles the hatred they have experienced.
Chih Hoong Sin talks very openly about the ‘importance of reframing hate crime beyond its narrow criminal justice focus’, and highlights mental health as a particularly important point of intervention.
My experience as an advocate with Stop Hate UK would lead me to echo this sentiment, and it is a philosophy that has been adopted by the charity throughout its 20 years of challenging hate; the importance of pursuing holistic approaches to Hate Crime and support for victims, combining criminal justice and positive action with social justice, understanding and empathy.
Far too often, people and agencies find it easy to dismiss the reports of somebody experiencing Hate crime that also experiences mental illness. Reports of Hate crime can often be seen as a manifestation of the victim’s mental illness. The woman labelled “most hated woman on her street” had been reporting incidents to the police for over 10 years when she spoke to our helpline. She also had the support of a psychiatrist and Community Psychiatric Nurse (CPN). So why did she pick up the phone to us?
Every person’s experience of Hate Crime will be different and every person’s experience of mental illness will be different, and perhaps the trick we are missing lies within this melee of individual experiences.
The criminal justice system has developed tremendously over recent years, and from the grim issues highlighted in the Macpherson report there have been a lot of improvements, including recognising the importance of perception in Hate Crime, developing a strong focus on the needs of victims and working towards established practice in Hate Crime cases. Put simply, the criminal justice system understands Hate Crime.
Yet as budget cuts lead to more and more police time being spent in response to mental health crises, the reality in most cases is that police do not have the expertise or adequate time, to effectively support people living with mental illness. It is not their job.
Health & social care has also seen significant improvements, with the closure of long stay institutions and a move towards care in the community cementing the importance of person centred practice.
Yet, notwithstanding the ever increasing strains put on the NHS and local governments, Chih Hoong Sin also highlights that Hate Crime is an issue that remains relatively new to health & social care providers. Whilst work continues to address this, the truth is that at the moment there are a lot of overworked individuals and overstretched services for whom Hate Crime is not a priority.
This mismatch between criminal and social service’s understanding and approach to Hate Crime and mental illness, ultimately means that people who require the support of both can often feel stuck in the middle. Despite increasing efforts of partnership working, the reality for a lot of people we speak to can often feel uncoordinated and ineffective, leading to loss of confidence in the police and exacerbation of their mental illness.
Chih Hoong Sin identifies that within health & social care, ‘holistic care requires seamless care pathways, with effective referrals and signposting’.
Holistic support for victims of Hate crime is no different; the ethos of combining criminal justice with social support, in a way which recognises the impact of mental ill health in the context of Hate Crime, is what will ultimately lead us all to provide better support for people who find themselves victims, targeted because of mental illness.
It is an ethos that runs through everything we do here at Stop Hate UK as we support people through the criminal justice system, and an approach we continue in our work with the woman who was taunted as the “local nutter”.
She may have been stuck in the middle, but we have been right there with her, and it is my hope that as agencies continue to embrace this holistic culture, one day she will be able to enjoy the sunshine again.
You can read Chih Hoong Sin’s thoughts on the importance of Hate Crime within health & social care here:
20 years of challenging hate: LGBT – showing respect for all and working together.
Canon Mark Oakley (with introduction by Claire Tabert)
Just a few months into my role as a Stakeholder Relationships Coordinator with Stop Hate UK I have met a number of people from different organisations, participated in panel discussions, attended training sessions, delivered training and helped promote a new helpline service for LGB and T people who have experienced some form of Hate Crime. I’m working with, and meeting, some really fantastic, interesting people who are all committed to supporting people who have experienced Hate Crime. One such person, is Canon Mark Oakley, the Chancellor at St. Paul’s Cathedral who talked about his participation in National Hate Crime Awareness Week and shared some thoughts about the retention of one’s dignity and respecting others. He said
“Three years ago I was part of a small team that planned a short, reflective service in St Paul’s to mark the beginning of Hate Crime Awareness Week. I knew that many of the people attending would be wondering whether the church was on their side or not. Members of the Jewish and Muslim communities came, as did LGBT folk, men and women from ethnic minorities as well as people living with disability. I had been very keen to shape up such a time together in the cathedral to highlight the effects of hate crime and the persistent need to combat it. But the stories I heard from people that evening shocked me more than I would ever have imagined – and fired me up more to do all I can with groups such as Stop Hate UK can to ensure better education on the relevant issues as well as encouraging the reporting of such crime to bring it to justice. I can still see now the man in the wheelchair crying as he told me how he had been tipped out of his chair in the street three times over 12 months by groups of drunk men telling him to ‘stand up for yourself’.
I am pleased that the service has continued to take place each year since. Sadly such events are needed even more in the current climate not least to remember the hate crimes that continue to be committed against LGBT people. Yesterday the Albert Kennedy Trust published its LGBT Youth Homelessness national survey which reports that around a quarter of homeless young people in the UK are LGBT. Tim Sigsworth, the CEO of the Trust, said that ‘after 25 years witnessing the rejection and abuse of LGBT youth just for being brave enough to come out to their peers and family, this report is a much needed call for government, housing providers and everyone concerned with young peoples’ wellbeing’. The report makes important recommendations to government and local authorities and the Trust contributes its own assistance to the situation through its excellent Purple Door housing projects in London and Manchester designed to take LGBT young people out of danger and off the streets. They stay in a safe house for approximately 21 days whilst specialist workers provide a bespoke intervention which covers longer-term accommodation, support, mentoring, advocacy and therapeutic care. Such safe, positive spaces are needed for them to regain their self-esteem and autonomy.
This survey also reminds us that hate can first be experienced in the home. For Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered people one of the issues we have to face in life is shame, because we grow up intuiting or being told from all angles that we are not right, or not loveable, or not acceptable – sometimes by our parents or siblings, often in the playground, maybe by our friends, then later – colleagues, politicians, priests. Many of us struggle with this shame. Shame is not guilt. Guilt is I have done something wrong. Shame is I am something wrong. One of the reasons I believe the church should be leading the way against hate crime against LGBT men and women is because it has helped to contribute to that sense of shame born in hatred in the first place. Many Christians have given the world a language with which to hate LGBT people, with words such as ‘abomination’ and the idea of unnaturalness and perversity. It is therefore vital that the church passionately seeks to undo what it has helped to create by admitting its past errors and developing a more authentic spirituality of speaking up for others, particularly the scape-goated, vulnerable and members of various minorities. Christians must uphold the dignity of each and every person without apology and at whatever the cost. That is why I am honoured to be working alongside Stop Hate UK, Tell MAMA, the Human Dignity Trust and 17-24-30 No to Hate campaign and I’m pleased that so many other Christians and people of faith are also working hard in differing ways to end hate based on discrimination in homes, schools, workplaces, faith communities and localities. It was excellent to see the Archbishop of Canterbury refer to anti-semitism recently as a blasphemy because like all hate crimes it violates the divine image in each and every human being.
In my welcome to the Hate Crime Awareness Week service last year I finished by telling people about the Dean of St Alban’s:
‘His name is Jeffrey John and if you have heard of him you will know that he is someone who has borne a lot of hate and discrimination for being gay, as has his partner Grant. Jeffrey once spoke on the radio and said this: “I have a memory from my schooldays that still haunts me. One year we had a boy in our class – I’ll call him David. He was a pathetic kid, weedy and rather effeminate. And his life was hell. Children can be incredibly cruel to anyone who’s different, and David was a brilliant target. He was beaten up, he got his lunch thrown away, he got called girl’s names, and he always sat on his own. I can hardly think of the misery that kid must have gone through. Now I never beat him up, I never called him names; the fact it was happening used to churn my stomach. But I never said or did a thing to help him. Because of course I was terrified that if I did, they’d turn on me too, and I’d get the same treatment. And of course that’s how it works, in so many bad situations in the world – and yes, in the Church too. We know what’s happening is wrong, but we keep our heads down, and hope someone else will do the martyr bit and face down the bullies with the truth”. To face down the bullies with the truth – the truth of each one of us here and those we love and represent – the truth that we are here, wanting to live our lives, wanting to love and work and engage and socialize in freedom and peace. That’s why we come together and why a candle will burn here throughout this week, challenging hate with light’.”
Canon Mark’s words have given me cause to reflect; they serve as a daily reminder that every time hate-motivated words and actions are directed at people, the impact on that person/group of people can be devastating and sometimes last a lifetime. With hate incidents being reported in the news on a weekly basis and numerous calls being made to our helpline it is more important than ever that we work together with other organisations on commemorative events to remember those who have suffered, promote our support services such as the new LGB&T helpline- 0808 801 0661 – and identify new ways of working innovatively and collaboratively so that anyone who is subjected to hate can access support, information and advice easily and in a timely way.