Hate crime is on the rise. Between 2015-16 and 2016-17 religious and racist hate crime increased by as much as 10% in Lambeth with 653 reported here in the year to March 2017 compared with 592 the previous year. In September, Stonewall reported recently that hate crimes against LGBT people have increased by 78% in the past five years. And, shamefully, disabled people are more than three times as likely to be victims of hate crime compared with non-disabled people.
A crime is classified as a hate crime if it is perceived, by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by hostility, prejudice or hatred towards someone's actual or perceived race, religion, gender, sexual orientation or disability.
A victim does not have to be a member of the group at which the hostility is targeted. In fact, anyone could be a victim of a hate crime. Hate crime can take a range of forms, from name calling and verbal abuse, to physical attacks or threats of attacks, damage to property or bullying at school or in the workplace.
Hate crimes are devastating and victims often feel too afraid to leave their homes or modify their behaviour in other ways as a result. This sort of intimidation needs to be eradicated from our streets.
14-21 October marks National Hate Crime Awareness Week which aims to bring people together to support those affected by hate crime and to remember those we have lost.
Lambeth Labour is calling for a zero tolerance approach to hate crime and to make sure residents know what constitutes a hate crime incident should it happen to them and where to go and what to do to report it. The more people come forward, the better this insidious and growing threat to our tolerant and diverse society can be understood and tackled, hopefully eradicated.
The Lambeth Equality Commission launched by Cllr Lib Peck last year heard about the considerable impact of crime on vulnerable victims, with disabled residents particularly concerned about hate crime and the police’s ability to support them. The report, which was agreed by Cabinet on Monday, included a recommendation that the Council should lobby the Metropolitan Police Service to monitor disability hate crime as a specific crime and improve efforts to increase reporting.
There are several ways to report a hate crime. Dial 999 or 112 to speak to the police or online. The police take hate crime very seriously and will record and investigate this offence even if you do not want to give your details. Residents should feel confident to come forward to report incidents to the police. It is vital that the true picture is understood so that appropriate action can be taken.
Against this backdrop of rising hate crime, it is quite simply dangerous that the government is proposing to cut funding to policing across the capital. The effect of these proposed budget cuts in in Lambeth would be stark, fewer police officers on patrol and only one walk-in police station would remain to serve the whole borough and give residents a place to report crimes in person.
Lambeth Labour is running a campaign to fight these cuts to policing. So far, over 1,000 residents have signed the petition to urge the government to think again.
Labour candidate in Stockwell