Work to combat hate crime across Avon and Somerset has been acknowledged nationally in a new progress report on how the police deal with hate crime.
Six police forces were reviewed by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services and Avon and Somerset was praised for work it has carried out in the area.
Nationally the police needs to do more work around the way it deals with hate crime.
But Avon and Somerset has been praised for its work in ensuring that victims are referred to appropriate support services.
Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens said: “I hope this report by HMICFRS reassures local people that Avon and Somerset Constabulary are focused and committed to tackling hate crime.
“Protecting the most vulnerable from harm is a priority in my Police and Crime Plan and a lot of work has taken place to increase reporting and provide enhanced support for our most vulnerable victims of crime, including the delivery of the training recognised in the report: ‘Taking the Hurt out of Hate’.
“I’m pleased the report acknowledges the Constabulary has in place a good referral mechanism in Lighthouse and good technology for recognising hate incidents and crimes to ensure victims are identified and supported.
“At the end of last year, I supported the Constabulary in the decision to
become the third force in the country to officially recognise gender-based hate crime. This was a move local people continually told me was important to them and the change continues to increase victims’ confidence to report hate crime
“Earlier this year my office undertook some independent assurance on the Constabulary and partner response to vulnerable victims, including those who are victims of hate crime and I will be publishing this report in the near future.
“We have some fantastic partner organisations working across Avon and Somerset and who we are committed to working closely with, sharing information and helping victims to cope and recover. Our message is clear, being targeted because of your age, sexuality, race, religion or gender identity is unacceptable and will not be tolerated in Avon and Somerset.”
And there was support for the force’s training package “Take the hurt out of hate” for frontline officers and supervisors. This is a bespoke training programme which uses a short film – based on a real case study - to promote, discussion, self-reflection and personal action planning.
“At the time of our inspection almost 2000 officers and staff had completed the programme,” said the report.
Further work is continuing to build upon this by introducing a cultural
awareness programme for our people working within some of our most diverse communities.
The use of Qlik Sense (state of the art technology to identify threat, harm and risks and potential offenders, protecting the vulnerable and monitoring changing crime trends) is “effective and well thought of by staff.”
“This automated report, which identifies hate incidents and crimes across the force’s IT systems and is sent automatically to 150 individuals, including neighbourhood managers, beat managers and hate crime champions,” said the HMICFRS report.
It ensures that crimes are correctly recorded; that the victim support service Lighthouse can consider victim’s needs; and enables intelligence units to monitor trends, potential hotspots and repeat victims/offenders and assess the threat, harm and risk.
The creation of “a network of hate crime champions” – volunteers with increased training on hate crime - is also commended although more work is being encouraged to develop the concept and ensure the champions contact every victim of hate crime.
“Take the hurt out of crime” training in Avon and Somerset was described as “a good start” with further work in cyber-enabled hate crime an area to be encouraged.
Inspectors also found good evidence of joint working with partners, particularly in Bristol, highlighting the fortnightly hate crime MARAC (Multi Agency Risk Assessment Conference), something that inspectors felt could be rolled out force-wide.
It was also felt that focus groups in which police officers shared their
experiences of being victims of hate crime should be extended to include support officers and staff, so that their experiences could also be understood.
A Seven Point Promise has already been launched to include staff, who have been the victims of hate crime.
Avon and Somerset was also credited with its decision to record gender as a form of hate crime – one of only handful of forces to do so – and encouraged a roll out across the force area.
Superintendent Andy Bennett, Avon and Somerset Police’s lead on hate crime said: “This was a very thorough report which is warmly welcomed.
“Inspectors have acknowledged the foundations we have put in place but we recognise that there is still more work to do in this area, which we are already undertaking.
“In October we will be throwing our weight behind the National Crime Awareness Week, which runs between 14-21 October. We have a series of events including: a social media campaign planned; will be spotlighting hate crime case studies, including 999 hate crime calls; hosting a hate crime ‘champions’ conference featuring enhanced training for PCs and PCSOs; and linking with local private companies to share views and publicise hate crime.
“Over the past two years, we have seen an increased level of reports of hate crime, which can have a devastating impact on victims and their quality of life; it divides communities and neighbourhoods.
“There is no room for this type of abhorrent crime in Avon and Somerset and we will always support anyone who is victimised and work closely with all communities to stamp out crimes motivated by prejudice and hate.
“We will also support victims and encourage them to report any form of hate crime to us and are exploring innovate ways in which vulnerable members of the community may reach out to us. This helps us to build up a better understanding and improve our services to the victims,” said Supt Bennett.
Find out more about how to report a hate crime here:
Posted on Thursday 19th July 2018