Hate crimes against faith and community organisations are best tackled collectively by all faiths and communities acting in concert, a new report advises.
The briefing paper, titled ‘Hate Crime, Faith and Belonging’, was compiled by the Faith & Belief Forum and the Department of Psychosocial Studies at Birkbeck, and draws on insights from a roundtable event last year.
It recommends that responses to hate crimes should include “prosecuting offenders to show that hate crime is unacceptable” and “promoting messages of belonging in response to the crime’s exclusionary messages”.
Under UK legislation, a hate crime is defined as ‘any criminal offence which is perceived, by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by hostility or prejudice towards someone based on a personal characteristic’.
Crucially, this week’s report recommends that responses to hate crime “should be collaborative, bringing together faith groups, faith forums, community organisations and local government.”
Authors say hate crimes “send a message of exclusion to people who belong to the same community as the victim and to those who witness the crime directly or online” which can cause “a cycle of division and violence”.
The report finds that responses which bring together different affected groups have a double benefit, in that they enable better access to services and “they communicate that one group is not struggling alone”.
It is the second of a series of three reports supported by a grant from Dangoor Education which looks at different aspects of belief and belonging in London.
The most common types of religious hate crime in the UK are anti-Jewish and anti-Muslim. Authors said “the increase of reported hate crimes and the massive increase in how these incidents are shared and publicised online have the potential to divide communities into isolated groups who fear and oppose each other”.