Brexit – Almost 2 weeks on, what do we now know?

June 23rd 2016 is indelibly etched in the UK’s political history, yet now, almost 2 weeks on from ‘Brexit’, we’re still not really any further informed as to what course the good ship UK will traverse through the choppy waters that lie ahead.

As a charity set up to tackle Hate Crime, we’ve seen first hand the ugly fallout from the referendum and some of the reports we’ve had, in the last 10 days or so, have been nothing short of shocking and it feels a little bit like, after Brexit, the UK has regressed about 20 years in its fight to tackle hate, discrimination, harassment and prejudice.

It’s important to note, however, that we must recognise that ‘Leave’ voters are not now all racist and, similarly, ‘remain’ voters are not now all ageist – something that certain groups and areas of the media seem to be trying to imply and sensationalise.
Hate Crime is a massively underreported crime and I also want to stress that point right now too. However, calls to our Helpline, which can include specific reports of Hate Crime or calls from people affected or touched by the issues, looking for help, support and advice remain high.

This last weekend (Friday 1st July to Sunday 3rd July) saw around double the normal levels we would handle and, since the vote result was known, the volume of calls to our Helpline is up around 4 times the volume of an average similar period.

Obviously, it is what we are here to do, but it’s not a statistic we are particularly happy or proud to report and, like the recent comments and pledges from David Cameron, we too condemn all forms of hate and welcome the pledge of a new action plan from the Government.

One thing that has happened, which we are pleased to report, is that we are seeing increased numbers of people coming forward to show support for the various charities and organisations set up to tackle these issues and there’s a real sense of the public and various organisations coming together to present a united stance on Hate Crime.

I’d like to go on record to say we’ve witnessed this first hand and to personally thank all the people that have sent messages of support to Stop Hate UK, via calls, emails and social media. Your support, in any form, is much appreciated.

Our message remains constant, throughout the turmoil of the last week or two – when it comes to Hate Crime, please REPORT IT. Don’t think twice to do it or try to rationalise actions that are wholly unacceptable.

Whilst the protracted affairs take place in Westminster, we want to see our existing and prospective leaders try and calm the country down and set peoples’ minds at rest. Not least, the groups of non-British people and those perceived to be non-British, seeking reassurance that being forced out of the UK is absolute nonsense and diatribe of the worst order.

What we need to do now, most of all, is to address the concerns and fears of ALL groups, British or otherwise and make community cohesion and safety our united goal.

Let’s hope the next two weeks sees a sense of clarity and calmness descend into society, but I rather think there could be more storm before the calm.

Stop Hate UK Statement – The rise of Hate Crime incidences after Brexit

Last Thursday’s referendum vote marked an historic day, in terms of the UK’s political landscape – it was always going to, whatever the outcome.

However, I am now certain that, with the dust still far from settling, no one really anticipated what this particular outcome really meant for the UK, in terms of repercussions and ramifications upon society as a whole.

As the weekend has shown us, the turmoil is far-reaching, with claims, counter-claims, u-turns and a general feeling that, at present we are somewhat rudderless and those that need to be our inspirational rocks are left floundering.

Sadly but, perhaps, not surprisingly, the UK’s immigration issue was probably at the forefront of many voter’s minds, given the type of campaigns run by the two main groups involved in the weeks and months leading up to the vote. To an extent, this was probably inevitable, given that immigration is such a sensitive, emotive and divisive issue in current times.

However, since last week’s vote, we have seen some alarming stories, across social media and in the press, where some people who are perceived to be non-British, are being verbally abused and, in certain cases being shouted at in the street that it was time for them to ‘pack up and go home’ or some having leaflets pushed through their letterboxes echoing similar sentiments.

Even more alarming is that such abuse and hostility is also being directed towards schoolchildren in the classroom and playground – a place they should feel absolutely safe.

Obviously, this is wholly unacceptable and perpetrators should be brought to justice.

Stop Hate UK has also spent time, since the vote was known, talking to people who are representative of the people in question and it’s very sad to hear them talk about no longer feeling safe in the UK and feeling isolated, vulnerable and genuinely scared to be here.

The vote on Thursday should not be seen and used, as a vehicle to engender Hate. This country, helped by many agencies and charities, such as Stop Hate UK, has worked tirelessly, to try to stamp out Hate Crime, in all its many and complex forms and we feel very strongly that, somehow, certain segments of the public now feel that the Brexit vote means that wholly inappropriate views and offensive language can now be used freely and without consequence and provides an excuse for xenophobic attacks.

The reported events of the weekend are, of course, extremely worrying and we must act quickly to ensure that the message to anyone affected by this is one of reassurance, empathy and determination to allay any fears they might currently have.

Therefore, Stop Hate UK echoes the many calls, from the likes of London Mayor Sadiq Khan and other leading politicians and councillors, not to tolerate such incidences of Hate Crime and to report them immediately to the police, via the Stop Hate UK helpline 0800 138 1625 or other local Hate Crime service.

Rose Simkins

Chief Executive – Stop Hate UK

Launch of West Yorkshire Hate Crime Reporting APP

Stop Hate UK is pleased to announce the launch of a new Hate Crime Reporting App.

Its aim is to aid witnesses and those targeted because of their identity, throughout West Yorkshire, to report incidents of Hate Crime and be able to access information and advice about Hate Crime services.

Development of the App has been made possible by funding from the Police and Crime Commissioner of West Yorkshire, as part of the Supporting Victims of Hate Crime Fund.

Rose Simkins, Chief Executive of Stop Hate UK said:

“This is an exciting new service giving West Yorkshire residents and visitors greater choice to report Hate Crime. The new App complements our own helplines and other reporting channels and, by capturing images of incidents, can provide the additional evidence needed to successfully investigate incidents. The information in the App about Hate Crime and other partner agencies within West Yorkshire will help people seek help as and when they are ready to do so – be that immediately after an incident or when they feel ready.”

We would like to thank the Office of the West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner for supporting the development of the App and for demonstrating their commitment to achieving sustainable Hate Crime services.

Rose continued:

“All forms of Hate Crime are significantly under-reported. Some individuals and communities are reluctant or unwilling to talk to the police or their council. The App gives victims and witnesses a safe and independent way to tell our charity, Stop Hate UK, about their experiences and to explore their options for taking things further.”

People can report via the App anonymously if they prefer but where consent is given, we will work with others to find the best possible solution to the issues raised.

Hate Crime Reporting AppThe App can be downloaded free of charge from the Apple App Store and Google Play by searching for ‘Stop Hate UK’ on either platform.

We’re also pleased to say that the advent of the App has recently been highlighted in an article in The Yorkshire Post and its launch seems particularly timely and, moreover, somehow more poignant, given the recent sad and very tragic events in the USA, which saddened and shocked us all so deeply.

The charity, whose Patron is Baroness Doreen Lawrence of Clarendon OBE, of Clarendon in the Commonwealth Realm of Jamaica; and ambassadors are Canon Mark Oakley of St Paul’s Cathedral and Great Britain athlete Adrian Derbyshire set up the Stop Hate Line in 2006 as a direct response to Recommendation 16 of the Macpherson Report (the enquiry into the handling of the death of Stephen Lawrence) which states that victims and witnesses should be able to report Hate Incidents 24 hours a day and to someone other than the police.

A Vision to ‘Stop Hate’ – Stop Hate UK Strategic Plan

We are very pleased to announce that Stop Hate UK is now in a position to publish its Strategic Plan for the period April 2016 to March 2019.

We have covered a lot of groundwork and planning in setting out our strategy, as we seek to continue our work with people who are affected by Hate Crime or other targeted crime.

Developing a 3-year strategy is a hard task, as we have had to look at all aspects of our work and the charity itself as a whole, from both an introspective and external viewpoint.

I am pleased to say that it was a thoroughly inclusive process, with every area of the organisation represented at an initial away day – from staff to volunteers and members and Trustees– so that we could listen to and gather the thoughts and opinions from people across the charity.

However, turning the spotlight on oneself is incredibly challenging; not only do you look inside to find the good things, but also the things we know we can do better.

Externally, the landscape is ever-changing as, invariably, modern life now moves at such a fast pace and technology evolves, finding more and more ways of invading our lives – sometimes in a great way, but other times in a much more sinister and intrusive way.

So, our first task was to set out what we are here to do…

  • To provide emotional support, advice and information on staying safe in the home or community.
  • To provide support on navigating the very complex criminal justice system and
  • To hold statutory and other bodies to account.

Stop Hate UK also has a long history of providing support to those affected by Hate Crime, often with complex needs, so we wanted to build on the very successful face-to-face advocacy and enhanced support work developed thus far.

Obviously, key to our services and a big part of our strategy as a whole, is to continue to provide our 24-hr helplines – often a ‘lifeline’ for those experiencing the harrowing effects of Hate Crime or other targeted crime.

Our helplines also provides a vehicle to report incidences of Hate Crime, so we are very pleased also to announce that the helplines will continue in their current format, featuring 3 distinctly branded lines. Opportunities to extend the scope of these lines and introduce new ones will be taken wherever this will help our aim to support more and more people experiencing targeted crime.

We also plan to continue to develop our role as a training and consultancy service to a variety of related organisations. Stop Hate UK has recently provided training to the police, prison services, youth offending team, probation services, housing bodies and multi-agency groups. Our new strategy aims to build on this platform whilst looking to increase the range of organisations to which we provide training and also the types of courses and subject areas we cover.

As ever, scrutiny will also be a part of our strategy as, with our extensive expertise, we now have experience in both setting up and managing scrutiny panels, which also includes the recruitment and training of panel members.

Stop Hate UK’s vision is clear and concise: “We dream of a society which is free from hate, harassment and discrimination, where all people are valued for their unique identity.”

But, to realise this dream, we need to be the organisation that provides the vehicle and channels for all those affected to be able to challenge, report and change their experience; we want to be there to support and empower people affected by all forms of Hate Crime; we want to be able to influence and guide organisations in their responses and we need to develop, build and maintain effective partnerships with other organisations to share in our dream.

We must also ensure that our core values do not change during the course of us working towards our vision. All staff, Trustees, members and volunteers must be committed to challenging hatred harassment and discrimination.

So, as part of the wider strategy, we have developed a list of core values that we must all fully embrace to have any chance of achieving our objectives.

For example, we must display genuine sensitivity to how people describe themselves, in order to communicate effectively with them. The language we use in how we communicate with the various people and groups that use our services is a crucial part of the services we provide. Essentially, what we say is of equal importance as how we say it.

To help us to achieve our strategic aims, then, we’ve also developed key objectives, that sit underneath each aim and we believe that if Stop Hate UK’s staff, Trustees, members and volunteers embrace and adopt the strategy and its objectives, our 3-year plan should carry the organisation forward to a better place and a stronger position, come 2019 and, hopefully, we can look back on this time and say that we had a real effect on and brought about change to the Hate Crime landscape.

To see our strategy document in full click here: Stop Hate UK Strategic Plan.

I sincerely hope that this information has given you a valuable insight, as to where, why and how our new strategy was developed and is to be deployed. I would also be more than happy to discuss any aspect of any part of it, if anyone feels they might have any questions or comments.

With that in mind, I thank you for taking the time to read this blog and we all now look forward to Stop Hate UK’s continued success in the fight against Hate Crime.

Rose Simkins
Chief Executive Stop Hate UK