Report of Independent Advisory Group on Hate Crime, Prejudice and Community Cohesion

Independent Advisory Group report on Hate Crime, Prejudice and Community Cohesion.

Annex A: Executive Summary of University of Glasgow's Evidence Review

1. Background of the research: The SCCJR was commissioned to explore the nature of evidence on hate crime in Scotland in order to support the work of the Advisory Group on Hate Crime and Prejudice. This report summarises key sources of information as well as addresses some issues around the definition and understanding of hate crime as a social phenomenon. In addition, as part of this project, a series of key stakeholders comprising national and local organisations were surveyed to explore organisational data collection, usage and perceived gaps in information.

2. Sources of information about hate crime in Scotland: There are numerous sources of information about levels and types of hate crime in Scotland. These include officially produced data such as statistical information specifically about this form of crime reported by statutory agencies on an annual basis, as well as data on hate crime or other forms of discrimination collected as part of wider social surveys. This report also identifies stakeholder organisations as key collectors of data on hate crime experiences. There is also academic research on hate crime, and data collection efforts which are picking up 'hidden' problems of hate crime ( e.g. reporting abuse experienced by NHS staff). Each of these sources of data has limitations and strengths, and in particular it is important to consider how different sources of data can be brought together in considering the extent, nature and means of addressing hate crime in Scotland.

3. Levels of hate crime in Scotland: Official data on reported incidents of hate crime establish that there is a problem of hate crime in contemporary Scotland. It is difficult to analyse trends in reported hate crime as it is widely acknowledged that reporting issues (both underreporting and uncertainty and inconsistency in reporting practices) significantly affect overall figures. However, all stakeholders consulted in this research report higher levels of hate crime than is reported in official figures.

4. Need of qualitative research to develop a more detailed picture: In addition to underreporting of hate crime in official data, there is also a need to differentiate hate crime experiences which are often aggregated in official sources of data. This research emphasises the need for more qualitative research on the nature and levels of hate crime, to help provide a clearer picture of victims' experiences as an additional perspective to the official statistics. Qualitative data can reveal whether there are particular intersections of protected categories that are targeted in hate crime, draw attention to circumstantial factors of victimisation and deepen understanding of the nature of the harms caused by hate crime.

5. The harms of hate crime, both direct and indirect, are widely experienced in Scotland: Stakeholder organisations reported many and widespread experiences of direct harm (direct experiences of being targeted and harmed through hate crime and discriminatory practices). People having protected characteristics experience harm, prejudice and discrimination on a regular basis. In addition and as a result, many people also are experiencing indirect harms of self-isolation, fear, resistance to engaging with services that lead to wider social harms and inequalities of reduced health and longevity, for example.

6. Attending to marginalised perspectives in hate crime research: While there has been a great deal of progress in terms of privileging victims' voices through qualitative research, it is also important to consider whose voices are still marginalised. The research has highlighted the fact that some groups are less likely to take part in research about hate crime victimisation, such as those with learning disabilities due to accessibility issues, or people in prison who may experience hate crime but lack the support to report or challenge it. The qualitative research base has undoubtedly improved in recent years however more is needed if we wish to be able to present a more reliable account of hate crime victimisation.

7. Perception that some protected categories are prioritised over others: Published research as well as responses to surveys administered in this research suggest there are perceptions that some categories and groups targeted by hate crime that are prioritised over others.

8. Stakeholders wanted more, and more regular, information from official data: Issues were also raised about the collection and reporting of official data - consistency, the prioritisation of certain protected characteristics over others depending on the political climate, difficulties disaggregating the data ( e.g. by learning disability).

9. Intersectionality is an important consideration for understanding and acting on hate crime: Intersectionality refers to the interconnected nature of social categories. The intersectionality of hate crime was considered to be a crucial factor by most of the stakeholders who took part in this research, and was also emphasised in the literature and research studies consulted. It is important to think about how experiences of victimisation based on multiple protected characteristics might be better captured both in quantitative and qualitative research - for example by considering the statistics at an individual level - and addressed more effectively in responses to hate crime. This is recommended as a subject area for future research.

10. Need of research into perpetrators of hate crime: More information is required on the perpetrators of hate crime, and this could be a focus for future research as it has received relatively little attention to date. In this vein, it is also crucial to avoid pathologising or individualising all instances of hate crime, as what evidence does exist on the demographics of convicted perpetrators suggests that they are likely to be young, unemployed or underemployed men with increased likelihood of being involved in the criminal justice system more generally.

11. Need to attend to structural dynamics of perpetrating, experiencing and addressing hate crime: Sufficient attention should also be paid to the structural factors that help to shape hate crime patterns (as is the case in crime patterns in general). As well as this, it is important to focus on the ways in which the structural disadvantage of minority groups (for example, in access to services, or in the labour market) combines with discrimination to negatively shape people's life experiences.

12. Dissatisfaction with existing terminology: Some stakeholders have suggested that there should be a discussion around the use of certain terminology, a point which is also supported by some of the academic literature. Problems with the term 'hate crime' are raised frequently in this report, with concerns that it obscures the more 'everyday' prejudice that minority groups face. It also potentially prevents perpetrators of prejudice (or people with the potential to act on prejudiced attitudes) from engaging in the debate, as most people would not consider themselves capable of a 'hate crime'. There are also issues with what was referred to as 'generic terms' or terms that could be misleading, such as 'sectarianism', which was raised as potentially creating a misunderstanding of the issues faced by a particular group. This is particularly the case in relation to the Irish community in Scotland, as it has been argued that such focus on the religious characteristic means that victimisation based on ethnic origin or cultural difference is not paid sufficient attention.

13. Key messages on effective practices and interventions: Stakeholder responses and research identified numerous issues around effective practices including addressing barriers to reporting; developing confidence and trust in agencies responsible for managing complaints; involving those affected directly in developing solutions and interventions; improving understanding and education of what hate crime is and how to talk about it; developing training kits for use by the third sector; exploring use of restorative justice and developing information and research on effective practices. See also Appendix 3 for a summary of all stakeholder responses.


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