Jane Hutt, Minister for Finance and Leader of the House
I am pleased to give an update on progress on the development of the Welsh Government’s Hate Crime Framework for Action. Many partner organisations are working with us to develop the Framework and a draft of the 5 year Framework will be available for public consultation in the summer. This reflects the delivery of a Programme for Government commitment, forms a key objective within our Strategic Equality Plan and builds on the Communities, Equalities and Local Government Committee’s findings into disability-related harassment.
I am strongly committed to tackling hate crime to ensure that Wales is a place which is tolerant and is built on principles of fairness and equality. People should feel free to live within communities without fear of harassment, so they are able to fulfill their potential and to participate and contribute to community life.
The development of the Framework will focus upon the protected characteristics of race, religion, disability, sexual orientation and gender identity. But it will also target other areas of hate crime including alternative subcultures and older people. In addition work is underway to incorporate other key areas within the Framework including far right extremism, on-line harassment and ‘mate crime’ (when vulnerable people are befriended by members of the community who go on to exploit and take advantage of them).
The Framework will be focused on three distinctive objectives: raising awareness and prevention of hate crime, responding and supporting victims and improving the operational response. This is being driven by a Task and Finish Group consisting of key Welsh Government officials in collaboration with statutory and voluntary agencies, which reflects the need for a multi-agency approach to develop and implement the Framework across Wales.
There has been a wide ranging and inclusive approach to engagement, including the formation of expert stakeholder groups across the protected characteristics. An on-line survey has taken place which resulted in support for the approach taken in the development of the draft Framework. We are undertaking innovative research to provide a conclusive evidence base to tackling hate crime. This includes the first research in the UK on the perpetrators of hate crime as well as research into far right groups and extremism in Wales. This is being supplemented with findings from Cardiff University, where a three year study into hate crime is taking place.
I look forward to taking forward this key area of work, and welcome the clear commitment from across the Welsh Government. I will provide further updates on the consultation launch and arrangements in due course.