From www.theargus.co.uk: Hate crime is all very well and good but where do you draw the line? Is abuse of ginger people, fat people, short people, tall people the equivalent of homophobic or racist abuse?
Wayne Jones (WJ): Hate crime is quite well defined – it is about actions that are motivated by prejudice and hostility and targeted towards a person’s disability,race or ethnicity,religion or belief, sexual orientation or transgender identity.
Of course, if somebody is a victim of a crime because of some other physical attribute we can still deal with it as a crime, but not under the hate crime guidance.
Hate crime can have a devastating effect on victims and cause fear among members of that community and local residents.
We are committed to reducing all forms of hate crime in Sussex and work closely with community groups to increase reporting,widen awareness and build confidence with victims to help bring offenders to justice.
ClubRob6, through www.theargus.co.uk: I think it is pointless to report a hate crime to the police – it will be ignored. Police no longer have the manpower. What do you think?
(WJ): Sussex Police really want victims to talk to us – we have both the resources and the desire to deal with reports sensitively and professionally.
Call us on 101, in an emergency dial 999 or report to us online through www.sussex.police.uk/help-centre/contact-us.
We are working in partnership with other agencies, including local authorities and independent advisory groups, to respond to all hate crimes and hate incidents and I would urge anyone who feels that they are a victim of such crimes to report them to police.
Sarah Jones, Brighton: Isn’t a lot of crime motivated by hate? How do you define a hate crime?
(WJ): The definition of hate crime has been carefully considered and has been adopted by police forces and other agencies nationwide to provide clarification and consistency.
I am happy to repeat that it is about actions that are motivated by prejudice and hostility and targeted towards a person’s disability, race or ethnicity,religion or belief, sexual orientation or transgender identity.
James Smith, Worthing: In the old days people used to be able to have a laugh without all this PC nonsense.
Can’t you call someone fat or speccy without the risk of being arrested anymore?
(WJ): James, I don’t agree that having a laugh at some else’s expense is acceptable now or ,indeed, ever was. In the past victims often suffered in silence and sometimes carried the effects for a lifetime.
Name calling or abuse because of a disability or other hate area will be dealt with firmly by the police.
Anonymous, Eastbourne: I was attacked and the police did nothing.
My attacker was not caught. I am worried that in an attempt to appear modern police are focusing all their resources on hate crimes and not enough on real crimes.
(WJ): I am sorry that you were a victim of an assault. Sussex Police will investigate reports of assault or indeed, any crime, and where we can identify a suspect and find evidence we will put the facts to the Crown Prosecution Service and aim to put that person in front of a court.
Hate crime is an area which we know there are high levels of under reporting, which is why we are asking people to talk to us.
This does not mean we will ignore other crimes to focus just on hate crime.
Sussex Police is taking positive steps to address hate crime and in December the force was named as one of only three police forces in England and Wales to record an increase in reporting across all five forms of hate crime monitored by police.
We are determined to increase people’s confidence in reporting so that victims get the support they need.
We have made reporting as accessible and straight-forward as possible and staff are trained to identify hate crime and incidents at the earliest possible opportunity.
Last year we saw an increase in reporting of 13% – 681 in 2011/12 and 786 in 2012/13 – and since April this year the trend is increasing which is again positive.
However ,we know that this is an area with significant under reporting and we are working closely with community groups to increase reporting,widen awareness and build confidence with victims to help bring offenders to justice.
Chris Roberts, Brighton: Can the gay taunts at Albion games really be considered hate crimes? Or are they actually just typical footie banter?
(WJ): Chris, there is no doubt that the majority of banter at football matches is inoffensive, often humorous and occasionally inspired.
However ,homophobic taunts at football are generally spiteful and aimed at causing offence.
They may well be considered as hate crime and perpetrators are liable to arrest and prosecution and remember , courts do have special sentencing powers if somebody is convicted of a crime motivated by hate.
Ellie Jenkins, Hastings: Do you see changes in hate crimes? Was racism more prevalent in the 1980s and is homophobia more common nowadays?
Why is this?
(WJ): I am not sure necessarily that crime trends are changing in the way you describe – it is more around society than the police.
It is true that there has been more action in the past against race hate crimes and racist behaviour – in some ways that focus has now widened to highlight the other areas as well.
Alice Johnson, Seven Dials: How do you stop hate crime? Is punishment really the answer or should people be educated for change?
(WJ): Alice, the police alone cannot stop hate crimes occurring,but everyone can do their bit to stop hate crimes by showing intolerance to perpetrators.
The police, though, can help by taking enforcement action and our message is clear – we will take action against perpetrators so again I would ask victims to contact us.
Call us on 101, in am emergency 999 or report to us on line through www.sussex.police.uk/help-centre/contact-us Remember you can also call the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 – you do not have to give your name and what you say is confidential.
There are also ways to report a hate crime through third party organisations – True Vision is such an organisation and you can report through their website.
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