By David Sidwick, Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for Dorset
As we reflect on national Hate Crime Awareness Week, I wanted to dedicate my blog to raising awareness and encouraging the reporting of this offence to the police.
Let me begin by saying that hate crime, in any form, is abhorrent, the ignorance and prejudice that the perpetrators of this crime have no place in our society.
Home Office statistics say that nationally, there were 124,091 hate crimes recorded in the year to March 2021 – 92,052 race hate crimes, 6,377 religious hate crimes, 18,596 sexual-orientation hate crimes, 9,943 disability hate crimes and 2,799 transgender hate crimes.
To see a figure of over 92,000 race hate crimes is concerning, especially during Black History Month, an event which is all about understanding, learning and celebrating the contributions made to our society by African, Asian and Caribbean people.
However, I would like to pick up on one specific type of hate crime which I feel rarely gets the attention and coverage that it should – disability hate crime.
Disability hate crime has had the largest percentage increase of all hate crimes in Dorset and is largely forgotten.
Giving victims a voice and raising awareness of the effects of disability hate crime is a key factor in tacking the issue. My office is currently working with the Force on making a short film where local people share their experiences and talk about the impact of hate crime on them.
To have people with a diverse range of protected characteristics talking about how they have been affected will, I hope, be a powerful and encouraging motivator to others who have experienced hate crime but not felt able to report it to the police.
The OPCC funds Restorative Justice, a victim-focused scheme by which victims tell offenders the real impact of their crime and as part of that scheme, a Hate Crime Awareness Course is being developed to deal with low-level hate crime cases. This is to challenge perpetrators on the impact of their behaviour both on victims and on themselves.
This course uses examples of hate crime and how it affected victims, and it works with perpetrators to identify how they might behave differently in future. If victims want it, feedback is given to them on the outcome of the course.
In response to the increase in the number of hate crimes being reported, the Home Office said the rise have been driven by improvements in recording, growing awareness, and a better identification of what constitutes a hate crime.
Increased reporting helps the police understand what is happening in our communities and how best to tackle it – so please – report hate crime.
I want people to know that hate crime has no place in Dorset and that I will work tirelessly to encourage tolerance, acceptance, kindness and understanding across our county – after all, the only true measure of goodness is the nobility of the human heart.