The first hate crime statistics for Jersey have been released by the States of Jersey Police. The Police issued this statement:
You may have heard the term Hate Crime being used lately, but what exactly constitutes a Hate Crime? What is it? It is defined as an incident that is perceived by the victim or bystander to be motivated by hostility or prejudice based on a person’s race, religion, sexual orientation, age, disability or against someone who is transgender.
Over the years we have worked really hard to better understand and work with all members of our community, and one aspect of this work is our Equality and Diversity Group. Consisting of officers and staff from across the force, the group focuses on the understanding and development of our service in this regard and looks at five particular strands relating to Hate Crime: faith, race, disability, age and LGBT.
The States of Jersey take this matter very seriously and in April 2015 a new Hate Crime Policy and Procedure was introduced, since then, all reports and incidents of Hate Crime are given absolute priority.
This July, the Minister for Home Affairs, Deputy Kristina Moore asked for Hate Crime and public order laws to be strengthened so more provisions are in place to deal with such offences.
To better understand the impact of Hate Crime on individuals and improve the support and service we offer to those affected, we commissioned an online survey to understand the experiences of Hate Crime, and the way in which such incidents are reported and dealt with in the Island.
The survey ran for several weeks during May and June this year and received 175 responses, the results of which show how the public perceive how we deal with verbal abuse and attacks. Racially aggravated hate crime was most common, with 68 people saying they had experienced this. 44 respondents say they were targeted because of their sexual orientation.
It appears that we still have some work to do to encouraging those affected to come forward as 145 people surveyed claimed that they didn’t report the matter to police. This was because of a number of reasons, either that they weren’t the victim, or they felt it had been dealt with at the time by other onlookers or that they thought there would be no evidence.
Someone worryingly said that they didn’t bother to report anymore as they felt no action was taken.
Some respondents said they had settled the matter themselves, or they were worried about revenge attacks or they simply couldn’t be bothered to report it. Some didn’t consider it to be a police matter.
The general consensus was that Hate Crime wasn’t a big problem in the Island, however, there were some who disagreed with that.
So, what can we do to encourage victims to come forward and report Hate Crime? We were offered a lot of suggestions, such as having a helpline, increasing police officers on the streets, making people more aware of their rights, talking to communities more and publicising what happens when reporting a Hate Crime.
Detective Superintendent Stewart Gull, Chair of Equality & Diversity forum, said, “We are pleased with this response and the feedback we have had. These results will help us to better determine how we engage with our community in the future and to ensure that anyone who falls victim to Hate Crime, or any crime for that matter, has the confidence to report it to us, in the knowledge that we will deal with the matter seriously and do everything in our power to achieve the best possible outcome for them. We are in the best possible position to be able to help anyone who has suffered any related criminal act or incident and are committed to playing our part in reducing discrimination. We regard any form of hate crime as an aggravating factor and will deal robustly with any form of offending.”
The newly formed Community Advisory Group, made up of representatives from across all the five strands and other influential groups, have already seen the survey results and are considering how it can be used effectively in the future.
Last year we joined forces with True Vision to utilise this online reporting mechanism for Jersey, providing a wide range of information, advice and guidance in respect to Hate Crime and an anonymous reporting function for anyone not wishing to speak with police.
The survey results can be seen here.