As part of a new initiative to provide information to victims of hate crime and encourage the reporting of incidents, representatives from Nottinghamshire Police and City Council held a meeting at the University of Nottingham on Monday 26 October.
The meeting was jointly led by Dave Alton, Hate Crime Manager for Nottinghamshire Police and the Safer Nottinghamshire Board, and Clive Foster, Hate Crime Project Officer for Nottingham City Council.
Sam Peake, Students’ Union Community Officer, attended the meeting alongside students from the ‘Parliamentors’ scheme, who are being mentored by local Labour MP Lillian Greenwood.
Off Campus Community Liaising staff from both The University of Nottingham and Nottingham Trent University were also present.
“Information is not always targeted as effectively for students as it is for fixed communities”
Dave Alton began the meeting by addressing the importance of engaging students in discussions about hate crime.
He acknowledged that university students form a constantly evolving group “so information is not always targeted as effectively as it is for fixed communities”.
He also revealed that nationally, there has been a rise in the percentage of reported hate crimes by 23% in 2014-2015.
This increase is in a context of a suggested reduction in the actual occurrence of hate crimes according to the latest Crime Survey of England and Wales, and is such a positive indicator.
However, he noted that despite this increase, many incidents still remain unreported, as many as three in four going unreported.
In discussing the problem of underreporting, Dave suggested that the term hate crime was “unhelpful” because it “implies it is an explicitly criminal activity, but the often implicit behaviours associated are not necessarily illegal”.
“It could be challenging for victims reporting these incidents as they feel it is not serious enough”
He also added that it could be “challenging for victims reporting these incidents as they can feel it is not serious enough to warrant reporting”.
Dave Alton then revealed that according to a historical report by the Nottinghamshire Hate Monitoring Partnership, of all Nottinghamshire hate crime incidents, 74% are racially motivated.
This was recognised as a potential issue for the Universities as a significant proportion of students from both institutions are international students or students from BME backgrounds.
However, despite the numerical predominance of racially-motivated hate crime, both Nottinghamshire Police and the City Council stated that the Universities should not narrow their focus to just racial hate crime.
“There was discussion of a new mandate for students’ unions to make their policies with regards to hate crime “fit-for-purpose”
The representatives cited the need to increase the focus on hate crime related to disability, particularly learning disabilities, gender identity, and sexual orientation, as many within and beyond the student population fall under these ‘protected characteristics’ as well.
Those present then discussed what is currently being done to tackle hate crime in Nottingham.
There was discussion of a new mandate for students’ unions to make their policies with regards to hate crime “fit-for-purpose”, with reference to an increased focus on “lad culture” and “consent”.
Clive Foster also outlined how the Nottingham City Council Community Cohesion Team works on a local level to tackle hate crime.
They have established workers and officers in the North, Centre and South of Nottingham who gather intelligence on incidences of hate crime that occur between different communities as well as within communities.
“The Students’ Union is looking to increase its focus on student and staff welfare”
Sam Peake also stated that the “Students’ Union is looking to increase its focus on student and staff welfare within and outside the University”.
The meeting was concluded by Dave Alton noting that the higher numbers of hate crime were classed as a success, as it was indicative of victims being more forthcoming about their experiences of discrimination.
With this improvement in reporting, it is important to see how the rate of hate crime is actually changing – something which the ‘Safer Nottinghamshire Board’ is trying to reconcile.
Moving forward, it was suggested that tackling the issue of hate crime could be achieved with the help of both Universities.
Potential plans of action include using sports events and a proposed report by the ‘Parliamentors’ scheme to raise awareness.
Image: The Nottingham Post