The Police Service of Northern Ireland will be taking the opportunity to highlight the extent and impact of hate crime across Northern Ireland and will be out engaging with local communities encouraging all to embrace diversity during National Hate Crime Awareness Week, 8-15th October 2022.
The most recent statistics published by the Service (August 2022) show that the number of crimes recorded rose across five of the six hate motivations (race, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, and faith/religion) when compared with the previous 12 months. Hate crimes with a disability motivation saw the largest overall increase of 38% (from 75 to 104), with sexual orientation motivated hate crimes rising by 25% (from 264 to 331).
A hate crime or incident can involve people being targeted based on their disability, gender identity, race, religion and sexual orientation. It can take many forms such as physical and verbal attacks, vandalism, graffiti, online abuse and threatening behaviours.
This week the Police Service will be sharing messages across their social media channels to educate the public on how to recognise Hate Crime so we can all play a part in challenging and stopping it.
Neighbourhood Policing Teams have also begun an engagement programme across all districts. They will be out and about in your local communities speaking to those affected and spread the message that Northern Ireland is no place for hate.
Endorsing the campaign Hate Crime Lead, Inspector Patrick Mullan said: “There is a famous quote that states, we hate what we don’t understand and I believe that this resonates in Northern Ireland.
“As a Police Service we would like to see a shift in the narrative so that the diversity in our communities is embraced and celebrated. This week our Neighbourhood Policing Teams begin a programme of engagement to speak directly to those affected by hate crime and encourage a better understanding of the diversity in our communities.
“Hate crime can have a long lasting, damaging impact on victims and their wider community. We believe that every person has the right to go about their lives without being the target of abusive language or criminal behaviour motivated by hate or prejudice. We all have a role in eliminating this behaviour from our society. There is no place for hate and we take reports of this nature incredibly seriously.”
The Police Service, alongside the Department of Justice, fund a dedicated Advocacy Service to help and support victims of Hate Crime. Six specialist Hate Crime Advocates, who represent all communities, support victims through the criminal justice process to help bring offenders to justice.
Since the commencement of the new service in April 2022 until end of August there were 498 referrals for Hate Crime Advocacy support.
One mother of a young victim they supported explained how Hate Crime has affected their family: “We’ve been starved of human kindness because they see us as different. I can’t remember when I last saw my child laughing, when the community turn their back on you its real isolation”
Another victim said: “Six months on and I still can’t go out on my own at night, at the back of my head I’m waiting for another attack.”
The Police Service would appeal to anyone who has experienced a hate crime or incident to report. Officers are here to help you and can make sure you get access to the support you need.
Report to Police by dialling 101 or 999 in an emergency. You can also report via a third party or the online Police reporting form, which can be anonymous. If you have any information in relation to a Hate Crime you can call Crimestoppers completely anonymously on 0800 555 111.