Paul Giannasi is the manager of True Vision, where he gives information related to hate crimes in the UK.
What is True vision and their purpose?
True vision is a function apart of the police. I manage it on behalf of the National Police Chiefs Council. We did a review in 2009 to see how well third-party reporting was working. Third party reporting stems from a stigma inquiry where that there were a lot of victims who didn’t want to report directly to the police, as they might not trust the police, or they might not want to go to the police. So, third-party reporting was seen as a way for victims to go to somewhere they might consider a safer environment. We did a review to find there was a number of issues we identified, and one was the various roots that reports were taking, some were taken on paper, some were being emailed, so they were sent in different ways. What we do is provide some of the tools to help victims to report it, either on behalf of a victim or the victim themselves. True vision is a facility that has three purposes one is to provide information to victims, professionals and advocates, another is to provide a library of resources and transparency in policies. So, you’ll see our guidance on there, the data, its got lots of resources so people can download or local material such as information packs. The second purpose is to allow people to report online, including anonymously if they choose to, you’ll also see a link there to report directly to the police. This is useful for situations such as someone being gay and not out to their family, so they don’t have walk in and tell the police this. So, reporting anonymously might be a more appropriate solution.
What are the most common hate crimes?
Racist hate crimes are the most common. We do crime surveys which found that 75 to 80% of the hate crimes we record are racist hate crimes. Religious hate crime often merges with racist hate crime. So, a victim who wears a hijab or a niqab, racist language may be thrown at them rather than religious language, even though what triggers the hate crime is them wearing religious clothing or leaving a religious building so you need to consider race and religion, as two sides of the same coin. This is because in a survey done in 2015, who was targeted the most was ethnic minorities that were of a religious background. What we also know is that some crimes that happen often are not reported. If you look at disability hate crime, the crime survey says that on average, 70,000 take place every year whereas we only recorded 5,000. So, disability hate crime is under-reported. Hate crimes also depend on the situation. When we looked at coastal areas like Dorset, the most common hate crimes were against people who worked in the night time. This is probably because they are the places that are more likely to be exposed to people who are drunk and groups of people.
Hate crimes prevalent online or real life?
There’s definitely a move online, it’s probably an additional than one being more common than the other. So, they work together. There’s a theory that states being more exposed to hate material, it makes people more scared and more likely to act out violently because they are motivated to exposure of hatred similar to what they hold. There is this argument that the internet is an additional or whether it’s the cause or its an effect on how we exist. The nature of the rapid expansion of the internet and social media, meaning that things we were dealing with occasionally like online abuse 10 years ago are mainstream now. This happens all over the world, but I don’t think it’s a movement from offline to online, I feel it’s an addition of the element of online. Hate sites have been there for as long as the internet, so for people to express this hate online, emphasises there is division in this society.
Do you feel the government are doing everything they can to prevent hate crime?
We are doing better than any other state as opposed to us completing the job. The first issue to get people responding is giving victims all the sources they need, so they can report. If you look at Greece, they recorded 40 and Italy reported 500 hate crimes in a year. For Alabama last year, they recorded 10 hate crimes and obviously, this state has deep seated racial divide. The UK is one of the successive governments to keep up with hate crimes, since the Steven Lawrence inquiry in 1999. I’d say we have the strongest response in the world for this issue. But more work needs to be done. We have an advisory group that is made up of advocates, academic and victims, who would say that we made some progress. They would also say we aren’t as well developed when it comes to looking at internet behaviours and responses.
Do you feel hate crimes are fuelled by the current political climate or by other factors?
There are divisions that appear at the time of the EU referendum, that didn’t happen in isolation, but they definitely lead to a spike in recorded hate crime. The issue was that more about awareness on reporting these crimes or more hate crimes. Our official review from the police was that we believe there’s evidence of three factors one was created by a division in society, there was a greater alertness and awareness of hate crimes, so people were more likely to report things when they did happen. We also noticed there was a lot of people indignant of what was happening, they were reporting things. We think it’s a number of things, obviously, the spike was significant, the home office recorded a 41% increase over an 11-week period. It didn’t happen in isolation of course, around the time of the referendum, Jo Cox was tragically murdered which would have an impact. There were also the terrorist attacks, which also have an impact. It’s impossible to say what the cause was and whether the actions of individuals involved were a level of hostility was released, came to the surface, where people were liberated to do so.