This week, Police Scotland launched its Hate Crime Campaign, encouraging victims to come forward and stand up to hate crime. Hate incidents not only cause suffering and social tensions in Scotland but are also a criminal offence.
Police Scotland are concerned about hate incidents and are working hard alongside LGBTI communities and organisations to stamp out hate crime. Kenny Craig from Police Scotland said: “Police Scotland defines hate crime as a crime motivated by malice or ill-will, directed towards a social group. Hate crimes often target vulnerable members of communities and have devastating effects on victims and their families.” The Government describes hate crimes as crimes committed against someone because of their disability, gender-identity, race, religion, belief or sexual orientation. Hate crimes can include threatening behaviour, assault, robbery, damage to property, inciting others to commit hate crimes and harassment.
The Police Scotland Hate Crime Campaign will run for one month. Week one will tackle crime against those with disabilities. Week two (starting 24th August) sees the campaign provide light on sexual orientation/gender identity hate crime, before raising awareness of race hate crime a week later (from the 31st August) and discrimination based on religious lines a week after (from September 7th).
It is thought people who feel marginalized by society are often nervous to contact the police about hate incidents and Police Scotland hope the campaign can help change this. Organisations like Stop Hate UK exists to provide various services to support victims of hate crime. Andrew Bolland from Stop Hate UK said: “We recognise that people are subjected to a range of hostilities across a whole range of personal identities. One of the key services we provide is a twenty four hour helpline service.”
Specifically in Scotland there are laws in place to protect people from prejudice. There is the Offences Aggravated by Prejudice Act 2009. This is in place to try and prevent hostility and hate from escalating. Stop Hate UK are working with the LGBTI community in Scotland to tackle hate crime head on. “We have recently received funding to provide a service for the LGBTQI community in Scotland, to report forms of hostility directed towards them,” said Bolland.
Hate Crimes can occur anywhere and it is important people who feel threatened, especially those in isolated areas, understand their rights and report what is happening to them in their community. Support is out there for victims. Through Police Scotland’s Hate Crime Campaign and being active in reporting hate incidents, it is hoped that hate crime can be significantly reduced. “The biggest barrier for us is a fear of reporting crime to the police. Our message through our new Hate Crime Campaign is, we are here to help, please do not be frightened to contact us, please inform us of what’s going on,” added Craig.
You can find out more about the Hate Crime Campaign and get in touch with Police Scotland via their website www.scotland.police.uk or via telephone 999 (emergency) 101 (non-emergency). Find out about third party reporting HERE. You can also get in touch with organisations like Stop Hate UK www.stophateuk.org