Hate Crimes Surge Globally, Yet Remain Under-Reported: Study

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Sign carried by a Pittsburgh protester last month commemorating the dead and injured in last year's Charlottesville, Va. Unite the Right rally. Photo by Mark Dixon via Flickr

Hate crimes—violence and micro-aggressions directed towards people based on their identity, “difference” or perceived vulnerability—are surging world-wide, even as many victims seem to prefer suffering in silence rather than report the offense, according to research published in the September issue of the British journal Criminology & Criminal Justice.

Neil Chakraborti, head of the Department of Criminology and director of the Centre for Hate Studies at the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom, analyzed data from more than 2,000 hate crime victims of all kinds throughout the world and found a confluence of factors that stops victims from reporting incidents.

Victims view reporting as a waste of time both for themselves and police because they believe officers don’t grasp the seriousness of hate crimes and are more with tackling different types of crimes. Victims’ previous negative experiences—or those shared by family members, friends and members of their own community— with police also can reinforce a lack of trust to report hate crime incidents, the paper said.

“As a result, most victims tended to normalize their experiences of repeat harassment and hostility as a routine feature of being ‘different,’ which in turn reinforced their sense of alienation,” Chakraborti wrote.

Furthermore, the lack of engagement from law enforcement and support organizations reinforce victims’ reluctance to report hate incidents. Despite law enforcement’s position that people who are most susceptible to hate crimes are “hard to reach” populations, the author finds that victims would report incidents to officers if they didn’t feel barriers were insurmountable.

Furthermore, Chakraborti argued that community engagement strategies commonly fail to involve those most affected by hate crime.

He called for immediate action to fix failing systems.

“Without urgent action, hate crime victims will continue to reject opportunities to report their experiences; will become increasingly detached from support structures; and will continue to have little faith in criminal justice responses,” Chakraborti warned in the article, which was first posted online late last year.

More than 14,000 hate crimes were recorded by police forces in England and Wales between July and September 2016. Similar spikes occurred in the United States, France, Denmark, Germany, Austria, Hungary and the Netherlands, and fewer than one in four hate crime victims report incidents to the police, according to author.

The author cites “trigger events” as possible initiators of hate crime and cites a Southern Law Poverty Law report indicating Donald Trump’s rise to the presidency as a trigger event for racial hate crimes in the United States.

According to Richard Rothstein, a Distinguished Fellow of the Economic Policy Institute and author of the book “The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America,” racial hate crimes can be curbed by dismantling systematic residential segregation.

“If people live so far distant from each other and have such different life experiences, they don’t understand each other, and that feeds racial intolerance,” Rothstein told The Crime Report in a recent interview.

A copy of Prof. Chakraborti’s study is available for purchase here.

This summary was prepared by TCR news intern J. Gabriel Ware. Readers’ comments are welcome.

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