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Faith and Charity Leaders call for action on hate crime

PRESS RELEASE: Faith leaders and charity CEOs call for urgent action on hate crime and a plan to reverse fear, division and lack of trust in public institutions

  • One of the largest academic studies into hate crime, commissioned by charity Citizens UK, has found that levels of hate crime across the UK are far higher than official figures suggest. The study links widespread under reporting by victims to an erosion in trust in political, media and other public institutions.
  • As the Government reports on national hate crime statistics 18 senior Rabbis, Bishops, Imams and charity CEOs from Citizens UK, Fawcett, Stonewall and the Muslim Council of Britain share “deep concern at the rising tide of fear and division in society and the erosion of trust in public institutions” and call for action [1]
  • Citizens UK, an alliance of 400+ civil society organisations is also calling for inclusion of misogyny as a hate crime nationally – to tackle widespread harassment and violence against women and girls.

Independent academic research commissioned by Community Organising charity Citizens UK has found that hate crime across the UK is far more prevalent than official statistics suggest and has coordinated a broad-based call from prominent figures who want the Government to go further and faster in tackling hate.

Preliminary findings of a nationwide study conducted by Dr Farhan Samanani, of The Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, suggest official Government figures for hate crime are the tip of the iceberg. Official estimates from the Crime Survey for England and Wales show 47% of hate crimes are unreported, whilst within this study 7 in 10 (68.4%) of participants said they never reported to the police . The study also found those who have multiple experiences of hate, seek support or justice far less often.

The survey also revealed that the failure to prevent hate crime and to support victims happened at multiple levels and is having a dangerous knock on effect on trust in public institutions (like the police, public transport providers and local authorities) and the justice system. The study also found that many people are unknowing victims of hate. Only 29.7% (3 in 10) of participants in the study reported experiencing a hate crime, whilst double that number 65.6% (6 in 10) had in fact had experiences of criminal behaviour where they felt targeted based on their identity – which would qualify as a hate crime under the law.

The research involved Citizens UK community organisers arranging evidence hearings in five cities across the country: Birmingham, Cardiff, Manchester, London and Newcastle. Teams conducted interviews and hearings with experts, with participants including local hate crime leads, victim support staff, head teachers, prosecutors and key figures within the police. A UK wide survey was also conducted with 1,031 participations, over two thirds of whom had some experience of hate crime. Today’s figures represent preliminary findings and the full research will be published in 2020 to feed into the Law Commission review of the UK’s hate crime protections.*

Taj Khan, member of Newcastle Central Mosque and leader with Tyne and Wear Citizens, said: “Newcastle Central Mosque was pleased to welcome the Law Commission to our city last month and share our experiences with the commissioners. Hate crime against Muslim women in public places has surged over the last few years, particularly Hijabi women who are easily identifiable as Muslim. I personally feel like the current system is failing me and many like myself. There must be a change to national hate crime legislation to ensure it protects all groups better and people feel confident that reports will be taken seriously”

Rabbi Robyn Ashworth Steen, Jackon’s Row Synagogue, Manchester said: “I have been shocked by the stories of antisemitism, misogyny, transphobia and homophobia that my community are sharing about their experiences on the streets of Manchester. We did a listening campaign in the synagogue earlier this year and the issue of safety came up on top – for women, for Jews and for LGBTQI+ people. A member of my synagogue, who is 93 and came over on the Kindertransport, stood up on the bimah recently and said she feels it was happening again. As a pastoral leader I can only go so far, so I hope that by joining this call today we can try and change things. Too many people feel that there’s no support and that’s why I’m involved in this work and supporting calls for better laws.”

Helen Voce CEO Nottingham Women’s Centre and member of Nottingham Citizen’s said : “Our pioneering work to get the Police recording misogyny hate crime incidents, has given women in Nottingham increased confidence to report or challenge harassment, we could do so much more if it was part of legislation nationally. Local women spoke to the Law Commission earlier this year to help them understand the positive difference it has made to their lives.”

Rt Revd Peter Hill, Bishop of Barking said: “Hate crime, whatever it’s origins, brings deep personal fear and destroys community. At this highly significant time in our national life we must choose to come together in our communities or split apart. People of faith point to a creative God who glories in diversity. That is why we must stand together calling out all hate crime, verbal or physical, whatever we believe and wherever we live.”

Matthew Bolton, Executive Director of Citizens UK, said: “Communities from across the UK are increasingly concerned that we aren’t going fast enough or far enough to strengthen hate crime protections. Political, media and institutional decision makers need an action plan to stop the toxic mix of scare stories on social media and a divisive political environment, which is providing a breeding ground for hate. We stand ready to work with political leaders and public institutions to find positive solutions to help communities feel safer.”

CONTACT: Andy May on andy.may@citizensuk,org / 07917824009


Ending hate in our public debate

As faith, civil society and education leaders, we are deeply concerned at the rising tide of fear and division in society and the erosion of trust in public institutions.

Incidents of hate crime have been rising dramatically since 2013. The early findings of a nation-wide study of hate crime published by Citizens UK illustrate the real-world impact of this. Whether it is people experiencing islamophobia, antisemitism or racism; LGBTQI+ people experiencing homophobia, biphobia or transphobia, women experiencing misogyny, or disability hate crime, hate has become normalised. Victims want public institutions, politicians and the media to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.

Whatever happens in politics in the next few months this much is clear; we need a drastic change in our public debate; a concerted effort to reverse the rise in hate and division.

Civil society, media and political parties can work together to heal these divisions, starting with better hate crime protections and a shared plan and accountability for building a kinder and more tolerant society

Signatories to date (alphabetical by surname):

Rabbi Robyn Ashworth Steen, Jacksons Row Synagogue, Manchester

Rabbi Charley Baginsky, Liberal Judaism,

Matthew Bolton, Executive Director, Citizens UK

Tim Dixon, co-founder, More In Common

Sir Peter Martin Fahy QPM, We Stand Together

Rt Revd Peter Hill, Bishop of Barking

Rabbi Dr Margaret Jacobi, Birmingham Progressive Synagogue

Dilowar Khan, Director of Engagement East London Mosque

Harun Khan, Secretary General, Muslim Council of Britain

Senior Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner, Reform Judaism

Saleem Kidwai, Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Wales

Sheikh Nuru Mohammed, KSMC Birmingham

Dr Fidele Mutwarasibo, Centre for Voluntary Sector Leadership, The Open University

Rt Revd June Osborne, Bishop of Llandaff

Sam Smethers, CEO, Fawcett Society

Professor Monder Ram OBE, Centre for Research in Ethnic Minority Entrepreneurship

Senior Rabbi Danny Rich, CEO, Liberal Judaism

Paul Twocock, Interim CEO, Stonewall

Rt Revd Dr Joanne Woolway Grenfell, Bishop of Stepney

Posted on 15 Oct, 2019