You are getting of the bus, and as you are leaving the bus another passenger proclaims at the top of his voice ‘this is my f****ing country, I can do what I want’.
Like me, at first you may be confused. Is this verbal abuse directed at you or someone else? What happened to cause such an outburst?
In your confusion you look at this passenger; he is not looking at anyone in particular but has his middle finger up, so anyone looking at him will have that directed at them.
Considering 80% of the passengers on the bus, including myself, were from ethnic minority communities this quite clearly could have been an example of a hate incident.
Working at JAN Trust meant I had more knowledge about Hate Crimes than your average bus passenger, but even as this was happening I was at a loss of what to do. Partly because it happened so fast, and also the flagrant disregard this passenger had for the people around him was unnerving.
As I was debating whether to confront this passenger or not I began to doubt whether this would lead to a positive outcome and instead it could prompt further abuse that would escalate the situation. But on the other hand this type of abuse should not be left unchallenged, and a part of the reason why incidents like this continue to occur is because the affected communities don’t speak out enough about them. Racism should never be tolerated. But what would you have done?
It’s hard to predict how one would behave when presented with this situation. However one thing we all must do if ever faced with these situations is to report them. Reporting helps to build an accurate picture of how Hate Crimes and Incidents are occurring in our communities and is a vital step in combating them. How can we fight something we know little about?
Before we go further, let’s clarify what we mean by a Hate Crime. A Hate Crime is any crime that targets a person because of hostility or prejudice towards that person’s; disability, race or ethnicity, religion or belief, sexual orientation, or transgender identity. Hate crimes can include physical and verbal abuse, as well as the threat of abuse. If the incident occurs which is motivated by hate but doesn’t constitute a criminal offence then this is a Hate Incident. Hate Incidents can feel like crimes to those who suffer them and often escalate to crimes or tension in a community.
Over the past year the Home Office has even acknowledged that there is a significant problem of underreporting of hate crimes. Through JAN Trust’s work it is clear to see the scale of the problem; a number of our users who have faced hate crimes are unwilling to report it to the police. Lack of confidence in the police, little knowledge about how the judicial system works, language barriers are a few examples of the reasons for not reporting hate crimes. I, someone who is aware of their victim rights and doesn’t have any language barriers, was not confident when faced with a hate incident so I can only imagine how someone who has these barriers might react. Only through a co-ordinated response between governmental bodies, such as the police, and community based organisations, such as ourselves, can this problem be effectively tackled.
Encouraging people to report hate crimes is important, and this is why we developed our ‘Say No To Hate Crime’ online reporting tool where victims or witness of such attacks can report it. Visit www.saynotohatecrime.org We do not disclose information unless asked to do so by the person reporting it; the purpose of this online reporting tool is to help build a accurate picture of how hate crimes are occurring in the community, and from there develop strategies to help tackle the problem on a grass roots level. This is not something that is going to be easy and can be done overnight. There is a long way to go before incidents like these are no longer common, but what is clear is the need to combat them. Never tolerate hate. Report it.