Jane Hutt MS, The Minister for Social Justice
National Hate Crime Awareness Week, which runs from 9 – 16 October 2021, is an opportunity to not only mark the important work taking place across Wales to tackle hate crime and support victims, but to also send out a clear and united message from across sectors that hate has no home in Wales.
During this week, police, local authorities, the third sector, and community members are collaborating on a range of events to raise awareness of online and offline hateful attitudes and the support available to anyone who has been a victim or has seen hate crimes happen.
Our National Hate Crime Report and Support Centre provider, Victim Support Cymru, is today hosting a virtual event: ‘The Online Hate Phenomenon – Shining a Spotlight on Online Hate in Wales’, The event will provide an opportunity to hear from a panel of experts with lived experience of online hate, who will discuss tools and methods to tackle the issue. Online hate continues to be a rising problem in our society, and a number of high-profile incidents this year show just how prolific it is and how destructive it can be. We have committed in our Programme for Government to work with social media and tech companies tackle hate crime and misinformation online.
The National Hate Crime Statistics for England and Wales 2020/2021 were published by the Home Office today. The statistics show a 16% increase in recorded hate crimes across Wales compared to 2019/2020. This compares to an overall 9% increase across the whole of England and Wales. There were 4,654 recorded hate crimes across the four Welsh Police Force Areas of which:
- 3,052 (66%) were race hate crimes;
- 884 (19%) were sexual orientation hate crimes;
- 150 (3%) were religion hate crimes;
- 504 (11%) were disability hate crimes; and
- 173 (4%) were transgender hate crimes.
Welsh Government and its partners delivered a number of projects during this reporting period to encourage people to report hate, which may partly explain the increase.
The Welsh Government funded Hate Crime Minorities Communities Grant projects worked with communities across Wales, adapting to the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic to raise awareness and increase the confidence of victims to report hate crime.
In March 2021, we launched our Hate Hurts Wales campaign. The short initial campaign led to a 122% increase in calls to Victim Support when compared to the previous year. We hope to build on this momentum with our second phase of the campaign beginning during National Hate Crime Awareness Week 2021. We have been clear that despite the importance of marking this week each year, hate crime affects victims all year round. Our Hate Hurts Wales campaign will therefore run continuously between October 2021 and March 2022 for this second phase.
Nevertheless, this proactive work does not fully explain the increase in hate crimes across Wales. It is clear that we still have much to do to ensure our communities are no place for hate and we build the kinder society which we all want to live in.
Our National Hate Crime Report and Support Centre continued to provide tailored support for victims and their families, as well as delivering a host of awareness raising work and training across sectors. We have funded this Centre for almost 8 years and we will shortly commission a successor service for at least the next 3 years from 1 April 2022.
We continue to fund our Hate Crime in Schools Project to ensure pupils and teachers in approximately 160 schools across Wales receive critical thinking and anti-hate crime training before March 2022. Our Community Cohesion Programme also continues to play a pivotal part in monitoring and mitigating community tensions. A rapid review of the programme is currently taking place and will assess whether the programme is as effective as it can be in embedding community cohesion across Wales. We expect to receive the findings of the review in early 2022.
Our engagement during the development of both the Race Equality Action Plan for Wales and the LGBTQ+ Action Plan has provided a clear steer that tackling hate and prejudice is a priority for the people of Wales. Alongside our Programme for Government 2021-2026 commitments, we are embedding actions to eliminate hate and prejudice in our work to promote and enhance equality during this Senedd term. As I outlined in my Written Statement on Women’s safety in public places in Wales on 28 September 2021, we have also committed to strengthening the Violence against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence Strategy to include a focus on violence against women in the street and workplace, as well as the home, in order to make Wales the safest place in Europe to be a woman.
Despite the work we have been undertaking in recent times, we cannot overlook the inadequacies in current UK hate crime law. Over recent years we have urged the UK Government to improve hate crime legislation by:
- ensuring parity with other groups in hate crime provisions for LGBTQ+ communities and disabled people;
- introducing misogyny as a category of hate crime;
- improving the speed of prosecutions; and,
- improving victim satisfaction rates with criminal justice processes.
The Law Commission is due to imminently publish its findings following a two year review of UK hate crime law. We urge the Law Commission and UK Government to expedite the publication of the review and Government response, with legislation brought forward in this Parliamentary session.
I was disappointed to see the Prime Minister dismiss so easily the categorisation of misogyny as a hate crime especially before the conclusion of key research by The Law Commission. It is crucial that the case for making misogyny a hate crime is fully explored and the recommendations of the review implemented if it is clear that doing so would offer increased protections and equity.
Hate has no place in Wales. We encourage anyone who has experienced hate crime – or anyone who sees it - to report it, either via the police or the National Hate Crime Report and Support Centre. Visit gov.wales/hatehurtswales for more information. Let’s stand up to hate crime together.