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Agenda item

Hate Crime In Sheffield

Report of the Head of Neighbourhood Intervention and Tenant Support Service.



The Committee received a report and presentation providing an update on what is currently being carried out to address hate crime and incidents in the city.  The report also provided an overview of the national picture in relation to hate crime.




Present for this item were Maxine Stavrianakos, Head of Neighbourhood Intervention and Tenant Support Services and Mark Seston, Performance and Partnership Manager, Safer Neighbourhood Service (SNS).




Maxine Stavrianakos gave background information to the report and presentation.  She said the Community Safety Partnership Hate Crime Co-ordinator was now in post and was looking at how people report hate crime and to raise awareness and develop a better understanding of hate crime and how it affects individuals and communities. She said that during the past year, events had been held to raise awareness of what hate crime was, training professional bodies to identify hate crime and there had been an attendance in school assemblies to educate students on how hate crime was committed and its effects on victims, families and wider communities.  Mrs. Stavrianakos said the definition of hate crime was any incident or criminal offence perceived to be motivated by hostility or prejudice towards a person, and could be for a number of different reasons such as race, religion, sexual orientation or disability.  She then referred to non-crime hate incidents whereby it was perceived that action against a victim was motivated by hostility but no criminal offence was committed.  She said that recently there had been an increase in “mate crime” which was the exploitation of vulnerable people and in particular, a rise in those who had been targeted by criminals through the obituary columns.  Mrs. Stavrianakos then referred to the hate crime strands as set out in the presentation and said that numbers of reported hate crime incidents were increasing year on year.  She stated that the Partnership had provided £10,000 in funding towards the “Stop Hate UK” campaign by providing a hate crime reporting line, but hate crime was greatly under reported and the main challenges facing the Partnership was to raise awareness as the public had a lack of understanding as to what hate crime was, were not aware of how to report it, had a lack of trust in reporting incidents to the police and the fear of reprisals if offenders were not dealt with.




Members of the Committee made various comments and asked a number of questions, to which responses were given as follows:-




·                     There are a number of ways people can report hate crime, either to the police, online, or through the city council’s webpage.  There are a number of ways it can be reported and a list would be provided to Members.




·                     With regard to the incident of crime against someone in the Jewish community last summer, this was the first time anything of this nature had been reported and a meeting is to be arranged with the Rabbi in Sheffield to ascertain whether this was an isolated case or whether there had been other occasions when incidents of hate crime against the Jewish community happened, but had not been reported.




·                     It was acknowledged that there was a need to promote online and telephoning mechanisms including those that are "third party" and do not involve direct contact with the police.  There was a need to make sure this message was passed on to all agencies and departments.




·                     In response to a comment from a Member who said that she had not seen any literature relating to the Stop Hate UK campaign for the last two years, it was acknowledged that, although proactive in the beginning, this was work in progress and it was accepted that more needed to be done to step up advertising the campaign and a better distribution of leaflets.




·                     The police were unable to force victims to take matters further.  Victims were fearful that the police would name them to the perpetrators and there would be further reprisals for the victim and/or their family.




·                     The Sheffield Community Safety Partnership were working with their counterparts in core cities and across South Yorkshire  who have encountered similar difficulties in encouraging people to report hate crime, with the aim of finding a solution to this. Work was also ongoing with Liverpool, who also use the Stop Hate UK reporting tool, to understand how they promote services.




·                     Ongoing work is taking place with South Yorkshire Police to ensure that staff are provided with regular training on hate crime/incidents to enable them to monitor hate crime, identify emerging trends and intelligence, and take proactive steps to disrupt and prevent escalation. This work links into the partnership. The police command team also look at all hate related incidents/crimes on a daily basis to ensure appropriate action/escalation.




·                     Training sessions can be arranged for Councillorson hate crime, equalities and prevent to assist them identifying possible hate crime victims within their communities, so they might be better placed to offer help and advice to victims and their families.




RESOLVED: That this Committee:-




(a)       thanks Maxine Stavrianakos and Mark Seston for their contribution to the meeting; and




(b)       notes the contents of the presentation and report now submitted, and the responses to the questions raised, and the additional information to be supplied.


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