Dame Vera Baird has written to the Minister for State for Crime and Policing, Kit Malthouse MP, to discuss the police recording of hate crime.
In her letter, Dame Vera Baird QC says hate crime is often recorded as anti-social behaviour by police and, as a result, routinely under-recorded.
Dame Vera Baird QC writes that her office has been in discussion with the charity Stop Hate UK about their concerns over police recording of hate crimes. She adds that she is writing to the Minister to share these concerns and ask that the government consider what steps might be taken to ensure this crime is being accurately recorded.
In a letter also copied to the Deputy Chief Constable Mark Harrison, the NPCC lead on hate crime, as well as Sir Tom Winsor at HMICFRS, Dame Vera said she would welcome the Minister’s views “on this issue of serious concern” and how the Home Office, working with the NPCC, plans to resolve it.
Stop Hate UK estimates that 70% of hate crime reports arise from incidents with neighbours and the local community and, therefore, hate crime is often viewed as part of wider pattern of anti-social behaviour. This can mean that the hate crime angle is often diminished, with the focus by police being placed on the anti-social behaviour.
Dame Vera writes that this can result in a failure to appreciate the impact on the individual and target of hate crime, with the criminal justice system appearing not to recognise the wrong being done to them. It also means that victims are not being signposted to specialist support which, in turn, can leave victims more reluctant to report hate crime experiences as they believe nothing will be done to support them.
Police failure to record these incidents as hate crime means that hate crime is being routinely under-recorded, adds Dame Vera. This, in turn, can lead to criminal justice agencies under-estimating its prevalence and impact on specific communities. This must inevitably impact upon the level of priority attached to tackling the crime and the level of resource attached to it, she says.
Dame Vera Baird voices her support for the view of Stop Hate UK that this is, in part, a failure of individual police officers to fully recognise and understand hate crime and its impact. She also says police are not always asking the right questions when investigating incidents. She adds that there may be training issues for the police to ensure they are recognising hate crime and the impact it has on the victim.
Dame Vera also raises the issue of recording on police systems. She says it is also not clear whether there is a hate crime flag on the Police National Computer (PNC) as there is for, say, domestic abuse. Dame Vera calls in her letter for this to be rectified.