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Hate Crime

Volume 527: debated on Thursday 5 May 2011

Hate crime is an issue that the Government take extremely seriously. Until recently, many crimes were not recorded centrally, making it difficult to assess trends. That is why the coalition programme for government included a commitment to better recording of hate crime against disabled, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. Police forces started formally collecting the relevant data in April, and from the summer of 2012 we will have the complete picture of statistics, which will show the pattern of local trends in hate crime and help the police to target their resources more effectively.

I thank the Minister for her comprehensive response. I wonder whether she could say what the Government intend to do about the under-reporting of hate crime, which is a big issue.

Yes, there is significant under-reporting. One of the actions that the Government have been taking is to work with key voluntary sector partners to encourage greater reporting. That includes, for example, the development of third-party reporting centres, because a great number of people do not report hate crime as they believe that it is not serious enough and they do not want to go directly to the police. Third-party centres will be able to pass reports on to the police.

On the Minister’s last point, I agree with her that there is a serious problem of under-reporting. Last year 11,000 racist or homophobic hate crimes were reported; I suspect that many thousands more were not. Will she talk to the Metropolitan police about increasing its resources specifically for an advertising campaign to report hate crime, so that young people in schools and in communities that do not normally associate with the police are made aware that they can get help, relief and justice for hate crimes committed in this city?

I thank the hon. Gentleman for highlighting the importance of getting that message out. I am happy to talk with the Metropolitan police, as there is indeed a great deal of under-reporting. There are certain sectors that lack knowledge or understanding of how or where to make reports. The police have set up a website called True Vision—just google “hate crime” and “how to report”—because the internet makes hate crime much easier to report where there is that lack of accessibility.