January 5, 2017 at 4:18 pm #6534
Whilst knowledge and understanding of hate crime and the impact it can have not only on victims but also on communities, social groups and countries is growing in Scotland, there is still a lack of knowledge amongst the general population about what constitutes a hate crime and how it can be reported.
The Scottish Government defines Hate Crime as “involving any criminal offence motivated by malice and ill-will towards a social group” (http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Justice/policies/reducing-crime/tackling-hate-crime). A hate crime can be motivated by race, religion or faith, sexual orientation, transgender identity or disability, and it is the motivation of the perpetrator that is the key fact in defining a hate crime, not the background of the victim.
A hate crime can take many forms, and does not have to include physical assault against the victim to be classified a hate crime, but could include (but not limited to) damage to property; intimidating or threatening behaviour; verbal abuse or assaults; online bullying; or offensive literature. It is the lack of understanding of what constitutes a hate crime, not only by victims but also by society that sees hate crimes being under reported. But this shouldn’t be the case, as it is not only the victim who can report a hate crime, but also a witness. It is easy to report a hate crime – it can be done by phone (999 for emergencies, or 101 for non-emergencies), in person by visiting a police station, via social media or online on the Police Scotland website, or through Third Party Reporting.
Third Party Reporting can be used by victims or witnesses of a hate crime when they do not feel comfortable reporting the matter directly to the police and may be more comfortable reporting it to someone they are familiar with, or someone they don’t know at all. In Falkirk there are currently nine third party reporting centres:
– Central Advocacy Partners
– Central Scotland Regional Equality Council (CSREC)
– Falkirk Children’s Rights
– Falkirk Islamic Centre
– Falkirk Central Mosque
– Falkirk Travelling Persons Site
– Forth Valley Sensory Centre
– LGBT Youth Scotland
– Rainbow Women’s Muslim Group.
At each of these sites, staff are trained to assist someone with Third Party Reporting, and will take them through the process and complete the online reporting form for them. This allows for the crime to be reported anonymously, protecting the identity of the person reporting the incident – though in Scotland, a crime cannot be prosecuted without a victim or witness being willing to provide evidence.
Do you think that this option will mean that more hate crimes will be reported?
Did you know what constitutes a hate crime/incident?
Do you feel that more needs to be done to promote knowledge of (a) hate crime; and (b) third party reporting in Falkirk?
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