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Police Officers Hate Dealing with Hate Crime

It is a curious but unacceptable state of affairs that the agency most likely to be consulted in relation to ‘hate crime’ is the least well-prepared to deal with it. This is a sad, but surprising indictment on modern policing in the UK. There is a Black Police Association (NBPA) and until recently, there was a Gay and Lesbian Police Association (GPA), however the issues require a far more complex response than simply sending ‘culturally appropriate’ officers to incidents.

A recent study shows that the police are often ill-equipped or under-prepared when attending incidents involving racial abuse, religious discrimination, assaults based on sexual orientation or so-called transphobia (discrimination against trans-genders). Hate crime is on the increase and accounts for around 1% of all crime in the UK. Whilst most officers are clear on what hate crime is, the study revealed that most had experienced only limited exposure to hate crime related incidents or were unable to effectively deal with the more complicated hate crime issues.

Currently police are trained to deal with hate crime incidents through simulated role play, lectures, seminars and specialised computer programmes. Not all police forces have specialised departments/units however. Historically, police forces have tended to focus upon the concept of ‘political correctness’ when dealing with, for example, victims from BME communities. Sending ‘culturally appropriate’ officers to incidents is not always an option for most police forces, but in any event it is culturally sensitive dispute resolution that is likely to be the most effective policing tool. This expertise can be gained by looking closely at real-life cases suggest the study, but also by the training being given by officers who have really ‘been there and done that’. Also effectiveness, in this regard, will almost certainly be increased by closer liaison with organisations that can bring officers into contact with actual victims, as well as heightening officers’ awareness of such organisations.


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