What has hate crime got to do with me?
Hate crime is a topic that perhaps you are familiar with, or perhaps you are unfamiliar with it. We often hear about it in the news, but in real life it is uncertain if the things we encounter are classified as a hate crime or hate incident. If you believe other people are in jeopardy of receiving hate crime, is it worth making a fuss and reporting the crime? As this is a societal issue, is it necessary to only think of oneself? Should we report our concerns of safety? Is it useful?
UKCWC is registered charity with the aim of encouraging British-Chinese women to ingrate into society, decrease a cultural barrier and minimise feelings of loneliness, as well as promote participation in society and an overall feeling of happiness. On the evening of the 28th February, UKCWC organised a Clubhouse lecture regarding hate crime. We invited a specialist trainer, Andy, from Protection Approaches to explain and introduce relevant knowledge regarding this topic, and to respond to questions from individuals who offered their real life experiences based on this topic.
Everyone’s willingness to speak, awareness of similar misconceptions and fears, as well as an increased desire to resonate with others allowed us to better understand and become more aware of the importance of this topic. We hope the following dialogue and shared knowledge will be used to better help our friends. (All of the following situations are real life experiences, so in order to protect privacy, all names have been changed.)
One evening in December, around 7/8o’clock, Sara (a city worker) and her friend (student) were walking along a brightly lit river bank. A group of about 5/6 young teenagers on their bikes sped up quickly to catch up with Sara and her friend and started shouting in their faces. After Sara politely asked them questions, they started to laugh and joke about. As the two girls kept on walking, the teenagers blocked their path and kept provoking them, asking them ‘are you Chinese?’ At that time, there were no other people in sight and the two girls didn’t dare get their phones out or even retaliate because they were worried they would irritate the group even more and make the situation even worse. They politely asked them to leave them alone otherwise they would call the police – they waited for their chance and then quickly left. After this ordeal, Sara struggled to remove the scenario from her mind and she felt really unhappy. She wanted to report the incident but she was at a disadvantage, as she had no photographic identification nor any evidence to prove what had happened. How can we collect evidence and report these incidents while also protecting privacy?
Firstly, Andy explains that protecting yourself in these types of situations is the number one priority. An inappropriate response, or using extreme language can easily turn the situation from a verbal attack to a physical attack. After protecting oneself, despite not having physical evidence of what occurred, it is still worth reporting the situation. Even though the rate in which hate crimes are successfully responded to is not high, (roughly 10%), by reporting the incidents it helps the police judge the safety within the area and the increased activities of these crimes, which could result in local police patrolling the areas more often. Every reported time (whether you have direct evidence or not) provides useful data. Regardless of whether the police are able to arrest the individual at that time, all reported crimes are relevant and recorded within the national crime database. This will further help in creating laws and regulations as well as providing sufficient evidence in preventing further attacks.
A true story – one Saturday morning, around 11am, a group of minorities were shopping in their local market when they were hurdled with remarks, but when the police had arrived, the individuals had left long before. A similar situation happened on another Saturday morning, whereby the police were called but were unable to arrive in time. However, by reporting these crimes twice, it provides evidence for the database and can help the police prevent these crimes by going undercover. As expected, not long after this, the individual returned but luckily this time the undercover police were able to control the situation.
Hate crime and hateful behaviour generally is directed at a specific group of people; it is not necessarily a one-off situation, although it does include similar vicious traits. Hate crime is a very grave matter with the victims of said crimes often being left very disturbed and upset, more so than those of other crimes. As it is a direct attack against ones’ identity (sexual orientation, native identity etc.) It can often lead to the victim becoming easily ashamed and confused about themselves, which can often result in a huge effect on their personal life. By reporting the crime early on it allows for the public to be aware of the existence of these crimes, as well as to help the police better patrol the areas and prevent the crimes from happening again. There are many different ways of reporting these crime, please read the description below.
One evening in London, Sophia and 3 of her friends had gone out for dinner and decided to walk home after. At this time, it had started snowing in London. The group consisted of a Chinese person, a British-Chinese (had been brought up in England) a Thai individual and a black individual. While they were all walking home, a group of young teenagers, aged around 10 and 17 years old started to throw snowballs at the group. Only 2 snowballs hit Sophia, but shortly after they started laughing and throwing the snowballs at everyone in the group. The Chinese individual who grew up in England politely asked them to stop, but they responded with hurtful remarks. They started shouting at them and continued to throw snowballs at them. They quickly hurried home and locked the door as soon as they got in so that no one was able to come in. Sophia instantly wanted to call the police, but the individual who grew up in England disagreed and told her not to bother because one of the perpetrators was a minor so the law would not be able to press charges or take control of the situation.
Sophia felt extremely confused and humiliated. She was unable to take any photos during the situation as to avoid intensifying the situation, so she lacked any sufficient evidence. After it all happened, she still wanted to report it to the police, but her friend told her it was pointless. Many young people often violate the law like this, but the law cannot press charges against individuals under the age of 18. Besides, Sophia was worried that if she did report the incident it would only cause more havoc.
Andy agrees that this is a serious hate crime and he explains that the perpretrators have violated public order. By going home and locking their doors they protected themselves, but after they should have dialled 999, or for any urgent matters, call 101. In England, the rate at which hate crimes are heard and taken seriously is very high. According to normal procedure, the police should promptly and actively handle the situation.
Andy also explains, that as a local born and bred British white man, he understands that in reality things are different and that this isn’t always likely to happen. He raises the idea that due to budget drawbacks, some police officers don’t receive adequate training in order to handle these types of situations, which results in these cases being pushed aside and forgotten about. This is indeed part of the reality that exists, but it is also something that the police force are working hard on changing. Besides, third party organisations such as Protection Approaches where Andy currently works also have the right to intervene and ensure that the police are handling these cases effectively. Therefore, if you think that reporting these crimes to the police is useless, everyone can provide these third party organisations with the report case number and details of the case. Relevant risk assessment is one of the basic procedures that the police force should adhere to when handling these cases. Andy has personally never encountered these issues, but there are few historical examples which indicate that reporting a hate crime will in fact cause another attack on someone else. The police, however have a different way of using the case details to prevent attacks from happening again. For example, police officers can go to schools and homes to educate young people about these issues, but they do this without revealing the identity of the perpetrators. A lot of the time, young people are ignorant and do not care but through education and highlighting said issues, it can help young people to understand the severity of hate crimes.
After Mia drove home from work and parked her car, she noticed two young teenagers sneaking into the garage and knocking on various car windows to see if they were unlocked, assuming they were attempting to steal the vehicles. Afterwards, they realised that Mia was the only one in the garage – being a solo Chinese girl they threatened her to open the garage door and let them go. Mia was the only person in the garage at that time so it is unclear whether or not the 2 individuals had a knife or such in their hands. Mia had to be careful to not video them face to face or call the police as this would only cause more tension. Mia had no choice but to open the garage door, then she rushed back to her apartment and quickly called the police. The police told Mia that she should’ve reported the crime then and there when it happened so that they could arrest the individuals. Mia wasn’t certain that calling the police at that time was a good idea as it could have jeopardised her own safety, so how can one distinguish between general crimes and hate crime? How can we judge when a situation is a hate incident or a hate crime?
As Andy sincerely expressed before, it is extremely understandable that you protect yourself before anything. Sometimes, it is in fact quite difficult to judge, especially judging when a situation has become an actual crime. Criminal behaviour is a violation against the law, such as harm to another human being, criminal damage, premeditated damage or stealing property. However, as for hate crime, it is often met with intentional hatred and bias towards another individual. As long as those involved in the crime feel that the motive of attack is directly aimed at a minority group (please refer to the end of the article for a specific definition) then you can take this matter to the police. Although the police don’t always handles these matters in a correct way, they have recently become more experienced in handling these affairs. As local residents, all we can do is promptly report the crime.
Kevin shared his story of his own personal handlings with the police. Kevin and his friend were in the process of moving out of their flat when they saw 3 young teenagers sneak into a goods truck and steal a bunch of mobile phones. Kevin shouted at them to stop, but as the group were about to run off they noticed that Kevin and his friend were Chinese so they turned around and started provoking them. Kevin quickly grabbed his friends phone to call 999 and tried to explain the situation as quick as he could. The police realised the situation was urgent and hurried to the location as quickly as possible after asking Kevin for their location. As the police arrived they realised that there had already been some physical conflict, but Kevin was left unharmed, however one of the other perpetrators had suffered from a nosebleed. Firstly, the police needed to find out the motive of the attack, (there were some witnesses around at the time who rightfully explained the situation), and they arrested the perpetrators and let Kevin go on home. After understanding Kevin’s concern, the police visited Kevin’s house later that day to explain that he used legitimate control, so despite the perpetrator being a minor, Kevin will not be held accountable. The police took Kevin’s name and details of the location where the attack took place and registered the details in the system, so that if a similar attack or the same person happens to provoke Kevin again, it will be dealt with promptly. Afterwards, the police maintained in contact with Kevin and gave him frequent updates regarding the outcome of the situation. The judge issued a fine and sentenced the 18 year old to 4 weeks imprisonment. Kevin hopes that by sharing his personal account of dealing with this situation that it allows everyone to be better prepared in defending themselves in these situations, or females could perhaps carry around protective spray with them just in case. We must have faith in the police, and provide them with the details as soon as possible. Besides, Kevin regretted that he didn’t take the initiative to mention that the reason why the group turned around and deliberately provoked them is because he is Chinese, perhaps if he mentioned this, the case would have been escalated to a hate crime and it would’ve been handled accordingly.
Andy confirms that Kevin responded quickly, and he also gave an example of how his colleagues and he had conflicts due to preventing teenager’s hateful behaviour towards minority shopkeepers. Although Andy himself and his friends are local white people, because the conflict was directly targeted at a minority group, the report at that time ought to consider the hate crime.
Even though, sometimes, a crime hasn’t actually occurred or the person isn’t sure if it is a crime or not, they can become a victim or a witness to a hate crime. For example, spreading racist and anti-homosexual remarks on the streets and on the internet is a form of hate crime. When the hate crime is not defined as a hate crime, if the victim feels that their feelings and/or rights have been infringed, they can still report this to the police.
Ivy mentions her experience in reporting a local hate incident, that although she lacked sufficient evidence for the police to make an arrest, by using the report information they were able to increase local police patrols. Local security has clearly improved. Ivy asks how to prevent hate crimes from happening, rather than just solely dealing with the aftermath that follows.
Andy agreed that prevention is indeed a good question, and he explains that his organisation are focusing on this direction. Although there is not one simple solution just yet, everyone can contribute. For example, by participating in community activities or local social organisations, it can help your voice to be heard. We must use the power of community so that, together, we can protect the rights of ethnic minorities.
Finally, as a witness, if you do happen to a witness a hate crime you can offer support to the victim. Just introduce yourself to the witness, and express your willingness to stand with the victim and show support, which ultimately can frighten the attacker off. Also, as a witness you can report the crime. Even if the attacker and the victim have both left the scene, it is still worthwhile to report the crime. Although the police will be able unable to make any arrest, as mentioned before, it still provides useful and effective data for the police and government.
This 2 hour discussion was extremely intense. UKCWC hopes that through sharing real life experiences and how others have coped will provide everyone with emotional relief, and to better understand how to assess hate crime/hate incidents, and the importance of promptly reporting said crimes. The following is a summary of the key points:
1. When confronted with these types of situations, we can immediately take action by reporting the crimes so long as it is safe to do so. For a specific definition of hate crime, how to report crimes and the common misconceptions of hate crime, please refer to previous UKCWC articles to learn more about how to protect oneself.
2. Although UKCWC is designed for British-Chinese woman in the UK, we are also a platform that offers support to everyone. If/when you are confronted with a hate crime, UKCWC have specially trained workers that can help you anonymously report said crimes.
As we now enter spring season in the UK, daylight has become longer and the weather has started to get warmer. Due to lockdown gradually reducing, and things are starting to open up a bit more, there will be more people on the streets. UKCWC hopes that everyone enjoys the fresh air and life’s finest moments, but ultimately we hope that everyone protects themselves and stays safe!