A full-scale review of the UK’s hate crime laws and strategies is needed as part of a new national drive to defeat the dramatic rise in race hate crime in recent weeks, the Equality and Human Rights Commission has announced.
In a major report to the UN on racial discrimination, the Commission makes a series of recommendations to the UK government to tackle hate crime and lead a national effort to defeat those who seek to legitimise and spread hate.
Since the EU referendum, police have reported a 57% increase in online hate crime reports in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. In London alone new figures from the Metropolitan Police Service show 599 incidents of race hate crime were reported to Scotland Yard between 24 June - the day the result was announced - and 2 July 2016. Police Scotland has not recorded a corresponding rise in hate crimes in Scotland, though it acknowledges that often these incidents of hate crime go unreported.
The Commission is using its report to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination to call for early interventions and stronger deterrents to help heal racial divisions across the country and improve the lives of minority ethnic groups.
The report calls on the UK government to:
- Carry out a full-scale review of the operation and effectiveness of the sentencing for hate crimes in England and Wales, including the ability to increase sentencing for crimes motivated by hate.
- Provide stronger evidence to prove their hate crime strategies are working.
- Work with criminal justice agencies to understand what drives perpetrators to commit hate crime and to use that evidence to develop new preventative measures.
As well as being more likely to be a victim of hate crime, the Commission’s assessment highlights how people from minority ethnic communities and migrants are much more likely to experience disadvantage in the criminal justice system, in an alarming ‘multiplier’ effect.
The report highlights the following areas:
Stop and search
- The latest Home Office figures show that a black man is still five times more likely to be stopped and searched by police than a white man in England and Wales.
- Dorset had the highest disproportionality, with black people being 12.7 times more likely to be stopped than white people.
Criminal justice system
- The latest Ministry of Justice figures show the rates of prosecution and sentencing for the Black ethnic group were three times higher than for the White group, while for the Mixed group they were twice as high, mirroring arrests.
- 40% of prisoners aged under 18 were from the Black, Asian, Mixed or ‘Other’ ethnic groups in England and Wales during 2014 to 2015.
Access to justice
- Race discrimination cases have dropped by 61% since the introduction of fees in employment tribunals.
- The reduction in the scope of legal aid and proposals for a residence test are likely to impact heavily on minority ethnic communities, reducing their access to justice.
- The introduction of a mandatory telephone gateway for certain types of legal aid cases has an adverse impact on people with limited English language skills.
- 38% of detainees in immigration detention have been held between 29 days to over two years, despite calls from the Commission and parliamentarians to set a maximum time limit of 28 days.
Chair of the Commission, David Isaac, said:
"There is no place for racism and hatred in a modern Britain. Throughout history this country has challenged intolerance and we must now work together to defeat the minority who seek to divide us.
"We need a concerted national effort to defeat those who are using the EU referendum to try to legitimise and spread hate. We need tougher sentences to deter perpetrators, a better understanding of what drives hate crime and how we can defeat it, and hard evidence to show these strategies work.
"The Commission’s report also shows how people from black and minority ethnic communities experience multiple disadvantages, especially in relation to the criminal justice system. We await the findings of the Lammy Review with interest.
"In the wake of Brexit, nothing is more important than unity, equality and security. Political parties need to come together and put our country first and defeat what could potentially be the worst threat from racism in a generation."
To read the full report from the Equality and Human Rights Commission, click here.