Hate Crime Awareness Week #StopTheHate #NHAW
This week, Roger Hirst, the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Essex, is championing a campaign to raise awareness of hate crime in all its forms.
The Commissioner is working with Victim Support, the Essex Restorative and Mediation Service, Essex Police, Essex County Fire and Rescue Service and other partners across the county to focus on issues surrounding hate crime as part of National Hate Crime Awareness Week 2020.
Roger Hirst said: “Any crime committed against someone because of their race, religion, race, religion, sex, parental or marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, age or disability is totally repugnant and wholly unacceptable in modern society. I encourage all victims of such crimes to report the incident and seek any help they need from one of the various organisations who are able to assist.”
The Essex Restorative and Mediation Service, part of the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner’s Office, is using this week to highlight how the restorative justice process can be used in hate crime incidents.
Service manager Nikki Essex said: “Restorative justice is a process used alongside the criminal justice system, giving victims the chance to have a voice about how a crime has impacted them. It also gives them the opportunity to ask questions and have a real say. For offenders, it allows them to understand the consequences of their actions and make meaningful amends.
“It has the potential to break down barriers between victims of hate crime and perpetrators and could benefit both sides. It empowers them to have their say, express the impact and educate the offender. Research with more than 3000 victims of hate crime show that, when given a choice between restorative justice with the offender or the offender serving a longer prison sentence, 60 per cent of victims would rather restorative justice.”
As part of a collaboration between Essex Police and Essex County Fire and Rescue Service, the joint education team, teach hate crime awareness in schools. These packages are now available online and can be accessed here: https://www.essex-fire.gov.uk/Home_Fire_Safety/Education_Hub/
Roger added: “Only by working together can we #StopTheHate. Protecting vulnerable people is a key priority for me in my Police and Crime Plan and Fire and Rescue Plan for the county. We must stand together to stamp out hate crime in all its forms and ensure victims feel fully supported.”
The PFCC supports various organisations across Essex that help victims of Hate Crime and work to prevent it. We have developed the Essex Hate Crime Prevention Strategy in conjunction with Victim Support and the Safer Essex Partnership and commission an Essex Hate Crime Coordinator to assist with delivering the strategy’s aims and monitoring its success.
The PFCC Community Safety Development Fund also finances the 24-hour Stop Hate helpline service in Essex.
Here is a case study by the Essex Restorative and Mediation Service demonstrating how successful Restorative Justice can be for hate crime victims:
If you have a case you wish to discuss regarding Restorative Justice, please contact the team on [email protected] or call 01245 291621
*Names have been changed*
One Saturday afternoon, Gulshan* was returning from a counselling session which had been a particularly difficult one. She had stopped to pick up some shopping on her way home and was fixing her headscarf while she waited at the till when she heard a member of staff in the shop comment into his headset “Watch out, this one’s from ISIS”
Gulshan initially brushed it off as a misunderstanding, she must have not heard him correctly. As she made her way home, she kept thinking about the comment and began to feel more and more fearful for herself and her children. What other abuse would she face living in this area? Do her children suffer from this kind of comment?
When she got home, Gulshan reported the incident to a charity who encouraged her to contact the Police. The officers who contacted her suggested that restorative justice (RJ) may help – she could face the person who had made her feel so uncomfortable and frightened in a safe space and tell him how she had felt and ask him questions. Gulshan felt that although this could be a difficult process, she wanted to confront this man and have her voice heard. The Police issued a community resolution and referred the case to the RJ team.
The RJ team met with Gulshan, and then John*, the member of staff who Gulshan had reported to have made the comment. John was distraught – he had no recollection of saying what had been reported and was adamant that he wouldn’t say something like that. Although John felt this was a misunderstanding, he didn’t wish to cause any further harm to Gulshan and said he would do anything to help her to feel that she was welcome and safe in the shop and community.
Gulshan and John met one evening for a restorative justice conversation, supported by two facilitators from the Essex Restorative and Mediation Service. John made a sincere apology to Gulshan for the stress he had caused over a comment he made into his mic. It was never his intention to cause any harm and he explained that the comment he made had been misheard. He had been communicating with a colleague and the discussion had been related to an issue in the store and had nothing in common with Gulshan’s presence.
Gulshan was able to explain how she felt and reported that the process had a positive impact on her. She was left feeling welcome to return to the store, which she continues to do, and didn’t go forward feeling that the community was an unsafe place for her and her children.
This incident has taught John to remove his mic when he is dealing with a customer and he is now very conscious how only hearing one side of a conversation can be misconstrued. This discovery has also become a part of the company’s training course for new staff.
Both parties said that RJ had a positive impact on them and that they would recommend it to others.