The Home Office Minister has responded to the Victims’ Commissioner’s letter regarding police recording of hate crimes.
In her December 2020 letter to the Home Office, Dame Vera Baird QC wrote to express her and Stop Hate UK’s shared concern that hate crime is often being recorded as anti-social behaviour by police and, as a result, routinely under-recorded.
Minister of State in the Home Office, Baroness Williams of Trafford, has responded to the Victims’ Commissioner’s letter. In her written response, dated 27 January 2021, the Baroness Williams declines to comment on Stop Hate UK’s concerns over police recording of hate crimes. She asserts that there may be a number of reasons why the police may not record an incident as a hate crime, including lack of sufficient evidence and the fact that not every incident reported will constitute a crime. She notes that where it is established that a criminal offence has not taken place, but it is perceived that the incident was motivated wholly or partially by hostility, it may instead be recorded and flagged as a non-crime hate incident.
She writes that in 2019/2020 there was an increase of 8% compared to 2018/2019 of hate crime offences recorded in England and Wales, attributed to improvements in police practice and the growing awareness of hate crime leading to improved identification of such offences. She goes on to state that the independent Crime Survey for England and Wales shows hate crime has fallen by 38% over the last decade.
Baroness Williams acknowledges that more can be done, and that the hate crime action plan (Action Against Hate: The UK Government’s plan for tackling hate crime), includes policies on improving the reporting and recording of hate crime. She highlights the requirement for police forces to disaggregate hate crime data by faith.
The Minister writes that Home Office officials routinely work with Stop Hate UK and will engage with them further to gain a greater understanding of the data.
Finally, she notes that she has relayed the Victims’ Commissioner’s data to the Home Office Hate Crime team, who are currently working with the National Police Chiefs’ Council and civil society partners to ensure police forces are engaging with communities and encouraging reporting of hate crime.