OPINION – Baroness Williams: Our hate crime action plan

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OPINION – Baroness Williams: Our hate crime action plan

Examples of hate crime online
Examples of hate crime online

by Baroness Williams of Trafford, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Communities and Local Government. 

Baroness Williams
Baroness Williams

There are 8 million people who identify as being ethnic minority in Britain today.

Some live in tight-knit communities, others don’t; but each adds to the rich cultural diversity our country is famous for.

The UK has some of the strongest laws to protect people from violence and bigotry, and for the most part we all get along. And yet the scale of hate crime remains a serious concern, especially for Jewish communities. 

Earlier this month I visited Stamford Hill’s Charedi community and met some of the people who work so hard to make their local area a better place. The visit was arranged by Chaya Spitz, the Director of the Interlink Foundation which works to help disadvantaged people in the area. 

Interlink are just one example of great work being done in Stamford Hill. I met Elliot Hambling’s team at Hatzola who provide a medical first responder and ambulance service to those in need, and Raizy Nieman and her Ezra Umarpeh company that loans free medical equipment to local hospitals. 

I also met Rivky Weinberg and Rabbi Abraham Pinter who are providing the next generation with the tools to get on in life at the brilliant Yesodeh Hatorah Senior Girls School.

But alongside these great servants of their community I also met those who had suffered at the hands of people of hate.

People like Ita Symons who shared her own personal Holocaust history, about how she was saved from death alongside so many other Jewish boys and girls by Rabbi Solomon Schonfeld.

Tragically in 2015 in London there are still Jewish people suffering abuse and intimidation. It is unacceptable. No one in modern Britain should live in fear because of who they are.

One way in which you can help is through reporting hate crime.

In the Jewish community you have the Gold-standard organisation for reporting hate crime – the Community Security Trust (CST). Their accurate data and twice-yearly reports give us a real insight into the problems faced by Jewish communities.

We want the same quality of reporting for all of Britain’s different faith and Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities, and my department is doing its part to make this happen.

We set up and continue to fund the first dedicated organisation to monitoring anti-Muslim hatred in Britain, Tell MAMA. They provide valuable insight into some of the issues faced by British Muslims as we look to counter the voices of division.

My Department also funds True Vision – an online resource which allows people to report hate crime of any sort directly to their local police. It’s quick, easy to use and effective.

Last week I met with members of the government Hate Crime Independent Advisory Group and reinforced how important getting people affected by hate crime to use one of these resources.

Alongside this I discussed our commitment to fully shaping the new Cross-Government Hate Crime Action Plan, which will set out a number of different ways in which we can both stop hate crime happening before it occurs, and offer the right support to those that are victims. Over the coming months I will report back on how this action plan is shaping up.

In my early years I experienced the height of the Troubles in Northern Ireland, so I know the pernicious consequences of hate crimes. Make no mistake: I and this government are determined to put end it.

We are One-Nation. What matters most are not our differences, but what unites us. We are joined together by our shared British values, and everyone has a responsibility to ensure they are never undermined.

Baroness Williams responsibilities include integration and faith, women and equalities, and race equality.

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