Examine and discuss the nature of hate crime and to what extent the police can effectively respond to it.

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Examine and discuss the nature of hate crime and to what extent the police can effectively respond to it.

The elimination of hate crime and hate incidents is discussed by the Home office and police stations all around the UK. Hate crime is any crime that the offender commits against a person or their property because the offender hates their gender, religion, disability, race or sexual orientation. Nevertheless, it is not essential that a victim of hate crime belongs to a minority group. A hate crime is any crime that is perceived by the victim or any other person to be the outcome of the offender’s hate or prejudice against certain people. Similarly a hate incident, which might or might not be considered as criminal offence, is any incident viewed by the victim or any other person as a result of the offender’s hate and/or prejudice. As hate crime can be classified a diverse range of behaviours including verbal abuse, racist graffiti, abusive gestures, damage to property, offensive letters and leaflets, arson, neighbour disputes, physical assault. The police will classify a crime as a hate crime if the victim of crime, or a witness, or a parent, or a carer or a person concerned perceives it as being a hate crime. This essay discusses what hate crime is and how the police address it providing information about hate crime from different areas of the UK.

A publication of the Great Manchester Police (GMP) on the monitoring of race and diversity in the area of Manchester reveals that during 2005/6, there were 5,088 reports of hate crimes and incidents, which constitutes a 19.3% increase since 2004/5. GMP explains this increase as the outcome of more people reporting hate crime and incidents, and because of improvements to the systems for recording hate crime and incidents, which have been introduced across the police force. The overall detection rate in GMP for all hate crimes (omitting hate incidents) in 2005/06 was 1,381 (30.7%). There were 3,962 racially motivated hate crimes, with the most common category being ‘less serious wounding’. The majority of race hate crime victims were male (59%), aged between 26 and 35 (26.5%) and 36 to 50 years (27.3%) and Asian (37.8%).

According to ACPO (2000) hate crimes take place because of visible differences between groups of people and they are worrying for our communities and our society. In particular, there is a lot of racist crime in our society and that disturbs personal safety and social cohesion. The government has produced relevant legislation that gives high penalties to offenders of hate crimes. Jack Straw, the Home Secretary who published the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry Report in February 1999, said: ‘Rather than detracting attention from other hate crimes, this focus on racist crime has been the catalyst for raising the service’s understanding of all hate crime.’ Another example of hate crime is homophobic crime that arises because the offender is prejudiced against lesbians, gay men, and bisexual or transgender people. This type of crime is also a police priority. Other forms of hate crimes are those committed against religious groups, groups within faiths (sectarianism), asylum seekers, disabled people and refugees. The ACPO guide to identifying and combating hate crime is a revised replacement of the previous ACPO Good Practice Guide for Police Response to Racial Incidents. Its development from the previous manual includes learning points from the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry and the combined efforts of staff in many police forces, in partner agencies, organisations, groups and individuals to eliminate hate crime. For example, the Great Manchester Police collaborates with other agencies in order to encourage people to report hate crime emphasizing that the main role of officers addressing hate crime is to help everyone influenced. Police officers search for solutions listening to what the people they are helping want because sometimes people affected by hate crime want to help justice but not to present themselves in court. In certain situations merely the presence of police officers can deflect the tension of a situation.

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However, sometimes it might be impossible to take a hate crime offender to court but there are different actions to be taken such as, for example, if the offender of hate crime is a tenant of local authority housing or a housing association then action towards a breach of tenancy could be initiated. Furthermore, even if there is not enough information to identify the offender of a hate crime the police still encourages victims and witnesses of hate crime to report what they have seen because their information could be invaluable for the build up of a case against ...

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