Letters of support from Prime Minister, Deputy Prtime Minister and leader of the opposition

Letters and statements of support for this year’s National Hate Crime Awareness week organised by 17-24-30 No to Hate Crime Campaign in partnership with Stop Hate UK have been received from the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister, the Leader of the opposition and the Minister for Crime.

Prime Minsister David Cameron wrote;

“Hate Crime Awareness Week reminds us of the devastating effect of hate crime on victims, their families and entire communities. It is a chance to remember those who have suffered or who continue to face intolerance and hatred.

We remember those who were killed and injured 15 years ago in the appalling nail bomb attacks in London, which targeted people because of the colour of their skin or their sexual orientation; we remember Ian Baynham who was killed in Trafalgar Square five years ago in a homophobic attack; we remember all those who were killed or injured before and since and think about their friends and families who must live with terrible consequences of hate crime every day.

Such acts must be totally rejected – every person, no matter their background, age, gender, sexual orientation, physical or mental ability, beliefs or ethnicity, should be allowed to live their lives without fear of being abused or attacked because of who they are – this is a basic right and one we all share.

We all have a responsibility to challenge hatred. Whether that’s addressing attitudes and behaviours that foster prejudice; intervening at an early age to educate children about tolerance; urging role models to set a good example, or backing communities so they feel confident to speak out against hatred.

And of course, the Government and law enforcers have a critical role to play too. The Government needs to make sure the best legislation and protections are in place to safeguard victims and give police and prosecutors the best possible tools; the police service needs to make sure victims feel confident in coming forward by thoroughly investigating allegations and robustly pursuing offenders; and prosecutors need to support witnesses and bring perpetrators to justice.

I am confident that the Government is making good progress in delivering on our commitments to tackle hate crime. We have strengthened the legal framework and improved how hate crime is reported and measured. We will continue to focus on our three core areas: to prevent hate crime happening in the first place; to increase reporting and access to support; and to improve the operational response to hate crime.

However, I know that still more needs to be done by all agencies and authorities, working in partnership with communities and charities like Stop Hate UK and 17-24-30, to ensure victims are heard, offenders are brought to justice and communities feel protected.

The UK is a far stronger place because of its diversity. People of different backgrounds all help make this great country. Let us all go forward together in the name of unity to confront hatred and intolerance.”

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg wrote;

“No-one should ever have to feel threatened or afraid of being who they are, because of their sexuality, beliefs, race, gender or disability.

“During Hate Crime Awareness Week, we remember those people who have suffered as victims of hate crime, as well as their families and friends, and stand with them to say we will not tolerate this abuse.

“In Britain, we pride ourselves on being a modern, diverse and open society. There’s no place in our society for discrimination of any kind. That’s why, in this Coalition Government, we’ve focused on preventing these kinds of attacks, increasing the reporting of hate crimes when they do happen and ensuring victims receive our full support.

“We can’t change things on our own. This is a constant challenge that we need to face together. Hate Crime Awareness Week is a stark reminder of what more we need to do: eliminating hate crime and building the fairer society everyone in Britain deserves.”

Leader of the Opposition Ed Miliband wrote;

“I want to add my support to this year’s hate crime awareness week.

This year’s events come on the fifth anniversary of the appalling murder of Ian Baynham in Trafalgar Square. Despite the progress we have made on equality elsewhere, too many young men and women still face the daily experience of discrimination.

I know that Britain is better than the prejudice and hatred directed at too many lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people.

This is why hate crimes awareness week and the many community and faith events happening across the country to support it are so important in affirming our collective commitment to speak out against hatred and persecution.

We have come a long way on the journey against homophobia and transphobia. Together, we have brough equality closer, from ending Section 28 to outlawing discrimination in the workplace in the everyday provision of goods and services. I am proud of the part that Labour MPs and Peers played in securing the sucessful passage of equal marriage through Parliament. Britain is better because of these changes.

But there is still unfinished business.

For every young person scared to come out or facing bullying in the playground, we stall have a job to do. For all those in other countries who are facing persecution and even death because of their sexuality, we still have a job to do.

But the legacy of equality has always been that when communities come together to organise a better society, progress has been made.

As you gather at events and vigils throughout Hate Crime Awareness Week, remember those who have suffereed and be restless for change.

Together we can build a more equal and just society.”

Norman Baker MP

Minister for Crime Prevention, Norman Baker MP wrote;

“Living without the fear of being abused or attacked because of who you are is a basic human right and one we all share. I welcome Hate Crime Awareness Week 2014 as an invaluable opportunity to raise public awareness and encourage local action against all forms of hate crime.

Targeting a person or a group based on their disability, race, religion or belief, sexual orientation, transgender-identity or any other personal characteristic is completely unacceptable and has no place in a civilised society.

In my role as Minister for Crime Prevention I have had the privilege of seeing the valuable work that groups like 17-24-30 do in raising awareness and supporting victims of all forms of hate crime. Earlier this year I met with Sylvia Lancaster from the Sophie Lancaster Foundation, who has built a lasting legacy to her daughter whose murder was defined by the court as a hate crime. We discussed how to raise awareness of hate crimes against people from alternative subcultures amongst young people, police and other agencies. The work of organisations such as these is essential in ensuring that the attitudes and behaviours that foster hatred are challenged, so that everyone has the freedom to live their lives free from hostility or harassment on the grounds of who they are.

The most recent update of our cross-government hate crime action plan ‘Challenge it, Report it, Stop it’ was published in May. As a progress report, it provides an overview of our achievements since the action plan was established in March 2012. In the report, we  also highlight issues that have emerged or continued to evolve and have renewed our commitment to focus attention on disability hate crime,  online hatred, extremism and anti-Muslim hatred. We are working across government, with our partners, the voluntary sector and on an international level to take action in each of these areas.

As part of our commitment to build a better understanding of hate crime and how it affects different people, I attended a meeting of the All-party parliamentary group on autism and learning disabilities in May to listen to the issues of the group about hate crimes against people with autism and learning disabilities. I have also met with the government’s Independent Advisory Group on hate crime. This group includes experts from across the hate crime sector and victims.

Following the recent rise in anti-Semitic hate crime in Britain we are liaising closely with the Jewish community to support them in combating it. I plan to visit the Community Security Trust, an organisation that supports the Jewish community and monitors anti-Semitic incidents, later this month, and Ministers across government have already met with representatives from Jewish communities to discuss the situation. New guidance for dealing with hate crimes, which includes advice for dealing with anti-Semitic incidents and how to monitor and deal with community tensions, has recently been issued to police forces in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Getting the response to hate crime right depends on deep local knowledge of victims, offenders and communities. Our action plan emphasises the importance of local areas taking the lead in tackling hate crime, with professionals, the voluntary sector and communities working together to deal with local issues and priorities. I congratulate all local areas who have organised events this Hate Crime Awareness week to promote local services and initiatives.

I am conscious that there is more we can do to tackle hate crime and it is one of my top priorities in my role. I will use Hate Crime Awareness week as an opportunity to remember those who have been affected by hate crime and consider how best to take further action to end these dreadful acts. We are making real progress in tackling hate crime, but there is still much to do to confront the hatred and hostility that still exists in our society.

I would encourage anyone who is a victim of hate crime to come forward and report the incident to the police, so we know where incidents are happening. You can report incidents directly to the police online through True Vision at www.report-it.org.uk.”

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