Figures issued to coincide with Holocaust Memorial Day showed that incidents of hate crime are on the increase in this country, particularly relating to race and religion.
With what seems to be hourly media coverage of refugees fleeing their war-torn homes to travel to Europe, or migrants camped at Calais, maybe we should not be surprised to see such an increase. Sympathy and prejudice may be stoked in equal measure.
More positively, greater awareness, reporting and prosecution of such crimes has contributed to the rise in recorded incidents. Research last year by Nottingham Trent University’s (NTU) Law and Social Sciences schools, commissioned by Nottinghamshire police, demonstrated both a strong desire by that force to get to grips with hate crime and to identify where and why officers on the ground struggled with hate crime.
Nottinghamshire police has signed up to Nottingham’s Say No to Hate Pledge, promoted by the city’s Holocaust Centre, and NTU is working with them to improve police training and risk assessment on hate crime. Their action is a beacon that is lighting the way for other police forces.
Awareness of hate crime is essential. Whether it is anti-Semitic, Islamophobic, anti-LGBT, anti-disabled or bile directed at Gypsies and Travellers, we need to recognise it and, as a society, say it has no place here.
When hate crime statistics are next updated, if we can show that the rise is attributable to an effective crackdown by police forces and that those prosecutions have achieved media coverage equivalent to the refugee and migrant stories, then we may be able to say we have made progress.
Dr Loretta Trickett and Dr Paul Hamilton, Nottingham Trent University