by Emma Mawby
This week is Hate Crime Awareness Week, and to make that we’ve got a guest blog from Emma Mawby of Gloucestershire Hate Crime Strategy group. The Gloucestershire Hate Crime Strategy Group brings together around 50+ organisations from across the county with the aim of tackling hate crime.
Content warning for mention of hate crime, assault, racism, transphobia (including transphobic language), homophobia, ableism/disablism, sexism.
“Hate Crime. Zero Tolerance. Report It”. That’s what we say in Gloucestershire.
If it’s a crime, and if it’s motivated by hate, it’s a Hate Crime. Reporting it helps us track down perpetrators. Whether it’s two men being assaulted for being gay, racially abusing and assaulting a man as he walks home, or a homeless girl’s belongings being burnt in an arson attack, we want to know. Whether you are the victim or a witness, we want to know. Every report helps.
My own experiences so far? The most frightening was quite early after transition. Four men jumping out of a metallic grey Ford Transit van to give me abuse at ten thirty on a Monday morning and threatening to ‘do you, you f*cking tranny’. I reported the van. The police tracked it down. It was a shared vehicle and ‘no-one could remember who had it out that day’. But the number plate of the vehicle and description of the hyper-aggressive 25-35 year old white man, no hair, stubbly beard three to four days growth, hyper-aggressive as if on drugs or drunk is one more bit of data to work from. The vehicle is now known. The owner’s premises are now known. The man’s description is now known. By such steps do we track them down and prosecute them.
I call all of this the ‘Shit Cake’. Everyone who suffers a Hate Crime incident knows it. It’s the same cake of hate, just with different shit icing. It’s being abused and attacked on a bus at night because some men think you’re lesbians, it’s being a victim of fraud when you’re a vulnerable pensioner, it’s being spat at and pushed into the road in front of traffic because you’re black, it’s being attacked because you wear a hijab, it’s being targeted and assaulted because you’re a woman, it’s being robbed on the streets while out in your wheelchair.
In Gloucestershire we have nine Hate characteristics where we seek sentencing uplift. Five are national and we’ve added four more locally. The national five are race, religion, disability, gender identity and sexuality. Our additions are age, gender/sex, alternative lifestyles, and homelessness. It’s vital as a victim or witness that when you report an incident you say, ‘This is a Hate Crime’ because it tells the police you believe the perpetrator specifically targeted you because they believed you had one or more of these nine characteristics. If it can be proved, then a sentence uplift of up to twenty five percent can be requested of the judge. For example, if the criminal would normally get a four year sentence, we can request it be raised to five. This teaches a simple lesson. If you perpetrate hate, we will charge you both for the crime committed and also for the hate that inspired it.
Gloucestershire has a very active Hate Crime Group. It is led by a very experienced member of the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner’s team, working with Gloucestershire Constabulary, Victim Support Gloucestershire, and around fifty diverse community organisations across the county also involved. That means hate incidents can be speedily reported, information and news shared, and perpetrators tracked down, arrested and prosecuted. It also shows one of the main truths about Hate Crime. It can happen to any of us, at any time, with absolutely no warning. In our diversity, working together across all communities and standing in solidarity with each other, we create a safer place for all to live in. Simply put, we are not safe until all are safe. Thanks especially here to PC Steph Lawrence of the Gloucestershire Constabulary Hate Crime team. Her amazing work reaching out across diverse communities is inspirational.
So, for this National Hate Crime Awareness Week 2020, let’s also make sure we do our bit as well. Please share this, and share the message, “Hate Crime. Zero Tolerance. Report It.”
And if you want to report a hate crime that’s happened to you then you can call it in right now to the police on 101, or 999 in an emergency, or report online in a number of places including:
to Victim Support at https://www.victimsupport.org.uk/crime-info/reporting-crime
to Galop, the LGBT+ anti-violence charity at http://www.galop.org.uk/report/
to Tell Mama (Measuring Anti-Muslim Attacks) at https://tellmamauk.org/submit-a-report-to-us/
to the Police at https://www.report-it.org.uk/your_police_force
and anonymously as a witness to Crime Stoppers at https://crimestoppers-uk.org/give-information/forms/give-information-anonymously