/Senedd rallies behind fight against Hate Crime

Senedd rallies behind fight against Hate Crime



(Title Image: The Guardian)

The Issue

Hate crime straddles devolved and non-devolved areas, with policing and criminal justice being the responsibility of the UK Government, but the Welsh Government and Senedd playing a role in community cohesion, equalities and community safety.

Hate crimes are motivated by a person’s defining characteristics – such as sexuality, race, nationality, age, disability or religion – rather than other criminal motivations.

Recent reports suggest recorded hate crimes in Wales have risen by 22% in 2016/17, spiking around the Brexit referendum and terror attacks in Manchester and London this year.

The Motion (Amended Version)

In summary, the Senedd:

  • Notes progress made in relation to the Welsh Government’s Tackling Hate Crime Framework, but although there’s been a steady increase in the overall recording of hate crime, the charity Victim Support says more needs to be done to encourage victims to come forward.
  • Welcomes the UK Government’s new social media code of practice to address bullying, intimidating or humiliating online content.
  • Supports calls for certain crimes committed against older people to be recognised as hate crimes.
  • Calls on the Welsh Government to tackle radicalisation of white men into far-right groups.
  • Calls on the Welsh Government to improve community cohesion following terror incidents as this is when hate crime against Muslims tends to rise.

Key Points

Communities Secretary, Carl Sargeant (Lab, Alyn & Deeside)

  • Hate crimes have long-lasting effects on people and communities; the Welsh Government’s plans set out to challenge hostility and prejudice against all those with protected characteristics.
  • Much of the increase in hate crimes is down to increased reporting; less than half of hate crimes were reported in previous years.
  • Funding for the National Hate Crime Report & Support Centre is protected until 2020.
  • People have received racial abuse from neighbours that they’ve never experienced before and there are many cases of people being abused for speaking languages other than English – including Welsh.

Shadow Communities Minister, Mark Isherwood AM (Con, North Wales)
For (if amended): Hate crimes are more than just race.

  • Recorded hate crimes had fallen by 28% over the previous seven years.
  • Disability-related hate crimes have risen by 101% over two years (+150% against children); there’s a belief it’s still under-reported.
  • Online abuse is disproportionately targeted at women, while 99% of those who abuse older people go unpunished.

Bethan Jenkins AM (Plaid, South Wales West)
For (if amended): Tackle hate crimes early, understand why men are radicalised.

  • People’s views are shaped at a young age so it’s important discrimination is tackled in schools.
  • Victim Support is working well but needs more support and endorsement from the Third Sector.
  • Hate crimes against Muslims spike following terror attacks, while white men are being radicalised by the far-right online.

Hannah Blythyn AM (Lab, Delyn)
For: Been a victim of online abuse herself.

  • 10% of LGBTs have experienced online abuse, rising to 25% of transgenders.
  • Received abuse herself following the LGBT members debate in February 2017; everyone has a responsibility to call it out, particularly social media companies.
  • We need to understand why some people feel marginalised from the political system, but that’s no excuse for them to scapegoat or marginalise vulnerable groups.

Neil Hamilton AM (UKIP, Mid & West Wales)
Support in principle: Things aren’t as bad as they used to be, but….

  • We live in a less prejudiced society than 50 years ago and that’s a good thing; he was once assaulted for going to the aid of a gay friend.
  • There is no active far-right politics of any kind; the BNP have disappeared while the English Defence League is insignificant – this should be celebrated.
  • Hate crime reporting exaggerates the problem because it’s always based on the victim’s perceptions not what actually happened.
  • Supports Welsh Government policy; hate crime is “abominable”. Distanced himself from the (infamous) “Breaking Point” UKIP poster.

Dawn Bowden AM (Lab, Merthyr Tydfil & Rhymney)
For: Abuse in sport still needs to be addressed.

  • Supports Show Racism the Red Card to address discrimination in sport, though the next big challenge is addressing LGBT abuse in sport.

John Griffiths AM (Lab, Newport East)
For: Call it out when it happens.

  • Noticeable tensions in his multi-ethnic areas of Newport in light of terror attacks and EU enlargement.
  • We all know of examples when people have said something “wrong” but haven’t been called out on it.
  • Community events like Rock Against Racism and Crush Hate Crime can get the message across, particularly to young people.

Vote

The amended version of the motion (as summarised earlier) was approved unanimously.