Following a lengthy and comprehensive consultation, to which Stop Hate UK was a significant contributor representing the interests of the people we support, the Law Commission has now published its recommendations on Hate Crime legislation.
We are delighted that the Law Commission has recognised that it is undesirable for aggravated offences not to apply equally to hostility based on Hate Crime across the five monitored strands of Disability, Gender Identity, Race, Religion and Sexual Orientation.
Although the Law Commission has not thought it possible to recommend an immediate extension of the aggravated offences to the strands of Disability, Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation, we understand the concerns that the current regime is not working effectively, and indeed this is something we raised as part of our consultation response. We therefore acknowledge and support the recommendation that further review of the aggravated offences ought to take place. Stop Hate UK hopes that the Government implements the full-scale review of the operation of aggravated offences and of the enhanced sentencing system that has been called for by the Law Commission.
Stop Hate UK welcomes the Law Commission’s recommendation that the Sentencing Council issue guidance on the approach to sentencing in offences involving hostility, as discussed in our consultation response We also strongly recommended that criminal record documentation ought to make it clear where someone has a previous conviction for an offence in which hostility based on one of the five monitored strands of Hate Crime was present. We are pleased to see that the Law Commission has taken up this stance.
We are disappointed that there is felt to be insufficient evidence at this time to extend the stirring up offences on grounds of Disability and Gender Identity: this is not the feeling of many of the people we speak to on a daily basis. We understand the stringent legal test to be met in order for a conviction for a stirring up offence to be secured but feel that there is a similar argument to be made about equality across the strands, as identified by the Law Commission in respect of the aggravated offences, even if only a limited number of convictions for stirring up offences would result.
Rose Simkins, Chief Executive of Stop Hate UK said today:
“Stop Hate UK believes that at the heart of Hate Crime legislation should be the promotion of equality. We are pleased that the Law Commission’s report reflects a number of the recommendations that Stop Hate UK made during the consultation. We will continue to advance and promote the interests of all those affected by Hate Crime and communities affected by Hate Crime in any further review.”
This month the College of Policing published revised operational guidance outlining the minimum standards for response, investigation and supervision of Hate Crime offences.
The guidance which replaces the 2005 Hate Crime Manual includes a foreword by Dr Nathan Hall from the Institute of Criminal Justice Studies at the University of Portsmouth and member of the Independent Advisory Group for the Police. Dr Hall who also sits on the Board of Trustees at Stop Hate UK said:
“The police occupy an important position in protecting victims of hate crime. Victims and broader communities need to have trust and confidence that the police will respond appropriately and effectively to their needs and this further demonstration of their commitment is welcomed. It is also important that many victims and advocates have contributed to the development of this product and I am pleased to see the document published. The policing of hate crime has improved significantly since the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry reported in 1999. This is testament to the tireless efforts of Stephen’s family but also to the dedication of many police officers of all ranks across the country, and of course the dedication of victims, advocates, charities and countless others working in this area. This guidance will help the service build on those improvements further.”
The under-reporting of Hate Crimes is acknowledged in the new guidance and Stop Hate UK is recognised as an independent service providing 24 hour Hate Crime reporting services offering immediate support and information for victims and third-party callers.
Commissioner delivers 24/7 helpline for all hate crime victims
Merseyside’s Police Commissioner has today pledged to tackle the under-reporting of hate crime by funding an independent support service for the whole region.
Jane Kennedy has announced she will fund Stop Hate UK to deliver a 24/7 helpline offering third party support and advice to anyone on Merseyside targeted by incidents of abuse, intimidation or hate because of their race, religion, disability, sexual orientation or transgender.
As well as offering a round-the-clock service by phone or social media, national third party reporting agency Stop Hate UK will also deliver a campaign aimed at raising awareness of hate crime in the region and the steps that can be taken to combat it.
The Commissioner made the announcement at the third annual Navajo Merseyside & Cheshire LGBTI Chartermark Award Ceremony, which recognises companies that support and encourage good practice and are committed and knowledgeable about the specific needs, issues and barriers facing lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and inter-sex (LGBTI) people in Merseyside.
The decision to fund the service also comes as the Commissioner joined officers today in raising the rainbow flag at Merseyside Police headquarters ahead of International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO) which is celebrated on May 17th every year.
The Commissioner took the decision to fund the service after becoming concerned that the service available to people across the region had become inconsistent.
Jane Kennedy said: “Tackling all forms of hate crime is one of my policing priorities. Merseyside Police are committed to eradicating crimes motivated by prejudice, intolerance and hatred. Nobody should be targeted by abuse or criminal behaviour because of their sexual orientation, transgender, disability, race or religion.
“We know that all forms of hate crime are significantly under-reported. We also know that if incidents are not tackled at an early stage they can escalate into very serious crimes. However, it is important to recognise that some individuals and communities may be reluctant to talk directly to the police or their local council.
“That is why it is so important to have a consistent third party reporting facility across the whole region. Currently that does not exist and that is why I have taken the decision to fund Stop Hate UK for Merseyside. This service will ensure every single person, of any race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or with any disability, living anywhere in the region can access an independent, confidential agency to report an incident of hate crime to a trusted and responsible third party organisation.
“I realise this means the number of reported hate crimes will increase, but that is what we must accept and encourage in order to protect our residents and prevent them from being targeted because of ignorance, prejudice or intolerance.
“My hope is that the reporting of hate crime does increase because, ultimately, that means that people are speaking out. It means people are saying abusing someone simply because of their race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability is never acceptable here on Merseyside.”
Stop Hate UK will provide the infrastructure and IT to deliver the most up-to-date reporting mechanisms and the training, skills and experience to deal effectively with all reported incidents of hate crime. This includes an easily accessible service with free phone telephone numbers, multilingual options, text relay for hard of hearing, text reporting which goes direct to call handler, web chat and on line forms.
Stop Hate UK will also focus on raising awareness of hate crime within Merseyside, educating victims, witnesses and the general public about what hate crime is and the steps that can be tackle it.
Stop Hate UK Chief Executive Rose Simkins said: “Stop Hate UK are delighted that Merseyside Police and Crime Commissioner Jane Kennedy has decided to fund the Stop Hate Line service across Merseyside.
“This is a very important step to bring consistency across the whole of Merseyside and to ensure that anyone can access independent support on Hate Crime 24 hours a day by phone or using social media to report incidents. Hate Crime is known to have a long term and devastating impact on those who are targeted. However, we know that most people do not report the incidents they experience or witness. There are many barriers to reporting including: fear of reprisals, fear of the police, fear of not being believed, or not knowing who to speak to. We will now be able to offer this much needed service across the whole of Merseyside.”
The Stop Hate Line gives victims and witnesses a safe and independent place to talk about their experiences and to explore their options for taking things further.
The Stop Hate Line 0800 138 1625 is open 24 hours a day, every day of the year. The helpline can support people who report incidents they believe to be motivated by aspects of identity such as Disability, Gender Identity, Race, Religion and Sexual Orientation. People who believe that they have been targeted because of other aspects of identity can also access the helpline.
People can also contact the Stop Hate Line anonymously. Where a victim has chosen to give their personal details to Stop Hate UK, their trained staff and volunteers will ask the victim who they want their details to be shared with. The charity can also share information with the police and council, with consent, to ensure that Hate Crime victims and witnesses can access the support they need.
A DISABLED athlete who is to hand-cycle around the country for a good cause has been training in Chester.
Wheelchair fencer Adrian Derbyshire, 38, won two gold medals and three silver medals competing for Great Britain and has often found himself the victim of hate crime whether it be verbal abuse in the street or more serious issues.
His Great Britain career ended prematurely when burglars raided his home and stole equipment valued at £35,000, plus Team GB memorabilia.
Adrian is now in training for a six month tour of schools, colleges, and universities around the country where he will talk about hate crime and what effects it has on its victims.
It started off as a four week projects but due to popular demand Adrian has expanded the tour into six month.
Adrian, from Warrington, said: “I have been a victim of hate crime due to being heckled and called ‘Cripple’ the first time going out as a wheelchair user. This left me with no confidence and I isolated myself for four months before getting the courage to go out again, and also last year, I was a victim of a burglary, the sole purpose being to steal all of my Great Britain memorabilia, two Gold and three Silver medals, and the Olympic Torch and Paralympic lantern which I carried through Chester in 2012.
“They could not find my medals and torch, but instead took everything else including my GB wheelchair. This group is known for terrorising vulnerable people such as those with a disability, mental health problems and the elderly.
“With this happening to me I decided to do something about it and became official spokesman for Warrington Borough Council’s Hate Crime strategy as well as being approached by National Charity STOP HATE UK to be an ambassador against hate crime in the UK, which I accepted.”
Adrian, who takes part in a half-marathon a day on his hand-bike as part of his training, was approached by James Booth, Hannah Winstanley, Jordan Williams, and Nicky Richardson, students at Chester University, who wanted to film him as part of a documentary for their University of Chester project and they filmed him alongside the River Dee in Chester.
“James approached me to do their project and I was happy to help. They have been following me through my training as I do daily half marathons.”
Adrian’s six month campaign starts next month.
Story from Chester First:
Stop Hate UK has teamed up with InterpreterNow to provide a Video Remote Interpreting Service which offers online communication support for deaf people.
Stop Hate UK strives to increase accessibility of its services to as many groups as possible so that barriers are removed in order that victims of Hate Crime feel equiped, empowered and comfortable to report. The launch of the BSL service is therefore an important development as it helps to widen Stop Hate UK’s reach amongst the deaf community in our helpline areas.
InterpreterNow can be accessed from any PC or Mac which has a webcam, and any tablet or Smartphone which runs on Android or Apple software. They’ll work anywhere so long at they’re connected to the internet and have a webcam.
To connect to an online interpreter, users simply click the InterpreterNow icon on the Stop Hate UK website and follow the onscreen options. In a short while an interpreter will appear on the screen and the user will appear on theirs. The interpreter then contacts a helpline operator at Stop Hate UK to relay the conversation between the user and the operator.
The Rt Hon Dominic Grieve QC MP
Attorney General’s Office
23 March 2013
Dear Attorney General,
We are writing to express our concerns in relation to the sentencing of Jordan Sheard for the manslaughter of Steven Simpson. A custodial sentence of three years and six months was imposed by His Honour Judge Keen QC at Sheffield Crown Court on 21 March 2013, following a plea of guilty by the defendant. Notwithstanding the guilty plea, having examined the media coverage of the case it is our view that the sentence was unduly lenient in the circumstances.
Our concerns about the sentence imposed upon the defendant stem from the fact that the manslaughter of Steven Simpson does not appear to have been dealt with as a case motivated by hostility in accordance with section 146, Criminal Justice Act 2003. In our opinion the facts of the case quite clearly involve proven demonstrated hostility by Jordan Sheard towards Steven Simpson on the basis of both his sexual orientation and disability. It appears that, contrary to section 146, these aggravating factors were not taken into account when sentencing Jordan Sheard, nor does it seem to have been stated in open court by His Honour Judge Keen that the offence was committed in such circumstances.
Further, it appears that the only aggravating factor taken into account was the attempt by Jordan Sheard to evade apprehension by fleeing the scene of the manslaughter. We are of the view that the offence was one of deliberate and gratuitous violence and that the conduct of Jordan Sheard included elements of sadism towards and the humiliation and degradation of Steven Simpson. Significant mitigating factors justifying such a short custodial sentence are glaringly absent.
A custodial sentence of three years and six months for the manslaughter of Steven Simpson does not reflect the true gravity of the offence committed by Jordan Sheard. We therefore request that this case is referred to the Court of Appeal for consideration of the sentence imposed as unduly lenient.
Stop Hate UK
Stop Hate UK is a national organisation working to provide support to victims of Hate Crime, across the strands of Disability, Gender Identity, Race, Religion and Sexual Orientation. The independent charity has been operating the Stop Hate Line, a 24 hour helpline for Hate Crime victims and witnesses in some areas of the UK, since 2006.
Stop Hate UK has launched a new 24 hour helpline service, Stop Learning Disability Hate Crime, in England and Wales. The new service will be funded by the Ministry of Justice Victim and Witness Fund.
People in England and Wales who have experienced, witnessed or know someone who is experiencing Learning Disability Hate Crime can contact the Stop Learning Disability Hate Crime helpline on 0808 802 1155 for support and information. The helpline is open 24 hours a day, every day of the year. It is free to call the Stop Learning Disability Hate Crime helpline from landlines and most mobiles and the number won’t show on a phone bill.
Calls to the Stop Learning Disability Hate Crime helpline will be answered by trained staff and volunteers, who understand the impact Learning Disability Hate Crime has on victims. Calls are confidential and callers will be asked whether they need ongoing support. Referrals will be made where consent has been given by the victim. Stop Hate UK will also follow up with callers and offer additional support, referrals or signposting where appropriate. All incidents will be reported to the local police by Stop Hate UK, either with the victim’s details for investigation purposes, if that is what the victim wants, or without the details of the victim for information and monitoring purposes.
Una Morris, Project Manager for Stop Learning Disability Hate Crime at Stop Hate UK said:
“Hate Crime has a significant impact on victims, their families, friends, carers and on the wider community. Our experience of working with victims of Learning Disability Hate Crime tells us that some people believe that the incidents they have experienced are not serious enough to report to the police or they simply experience too many incidents to report, often on a daily basis. For other victims, they may not know that what they have experienced is Hate Crime, although they might know it is wrong, or they may be experiencing Mate Crime and think the perpetrators are their friends. We can support people to identify their experiences as Hate Crime or Mate Crime.”
“The Stop Learning Disability Hate Crime helpline offers a mechanism for reporting, support and information, as well as a way to access the support of other agencies, such as the police and housing providers. The helpline is available 24 hours a day for anyone in England and Wales who is affected by Learning Disability Hate Crime or knows someone who is.”
Paul Giannasi, on behalf of the Association of Chief Police Officers, said:
“The Stop Learning Disability Hate Crime helpline is a vital service. We know from the British Crime Survey that Disability Hate Crime is underreported. This is particularly true of Learning Disability Hate Crime. Stop Hate UK’s new helpline offers victims and witnesses an opportunity to report to an independent charity with specialist knowledge of Learning Disability Hate Crime. This service will benefit individuals and communities by increasing confidence in reporting processes and will provide valuable statistical data on the scale of the problem.”
Talk to the Stop Learning Disability Hate Crime helpline on 0808 802 1155.
Stop Hate UK is currently developing a range of publicity materials in easy read accessible formats to promote the Stop Learning Disability Hate Crime helpline.
Notes to the Editor