Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

Hate and Blame Colloquium

This event has now finished. Please see our events website for details of upcoming events at Brookes.

Who this event is for

  • Everyone

Location

Headington Hill Hall, Headington Campus, Headington Hill site

Details

The purpose of this colloquium is to bring together practitioners and academics to discuss current themes and issues relating to the implementation of hate crime law in this country. We are very pleased to have Professor Barbara Perry of the University of Ontario as our keynote speaker who is one of the foremost thinkers on hate crime. The purpose of the colloquium is to generate a dialogue between academics and practitioners, and to identify key areas of concern relating to hate crime law. The rest of the panel of speakers will, therefore, include a mixture of academics and practitioners, as will the audience. Below is an outline of the day:

Keynote and closing speech

Professor Barbara Perry, University of Ontario, Institute of Technology

Session One: The protected characteristics in hate crime: The blameless victim?

  • Dr Kay Goodall (Stirling University) Hate crime and vulnerability
  • Baljit Ubhey, (Chief Crown Prosecutor, Thames and Chiltern, CPS) Elder crime and hate crime
  • Una Morris, (Stop Hate UK) What victims want

Session Two: Hate and Blame in context

  • Chara Bakalis (Oxford Brookes University) Hate crime law and equality
  • Professor David Nash (Oxford Brookes University) A historical perspective on hate and blame
  • Monica Fitzpatrick (Research Manager, Challenge Hate Crime Project), Sectarianism: Thoughts from Northern Ireland

Session Three: Beyond the hate crime prosecution: Remedy over blame

  • Peter Edge (Oxford Brookes University) Civil and quasi-civil remedies to hate crime
  • Hugh Matthews (Chief Inspector, Head of Equality and Diversity, Thames Valley Police) The challenges hate poses to government agencies

Conference findings

In June 2012 with the generous support of Oxford Brookes University, we hosted a one day colloquium entitled Hate and Blame. The purpose of this colloquium was to bring together practitioners and academics to discuss current themes and issues relating to the implementation of hate crime law in this country. We were very pleased to have Professor Barbara Perry of the University of Ontario, Institute of Technology as our keynote speaker who is one of the foremost thinkers on hate crime. Our aim was to generate a dialogue between academics and practitioners, and to identify key areas of concern relating to hate crime law. The panel of speakers, therefore, included a mixture of academics and practitioners, as did the audience.

Keynote Speaker

Professor Barbara Perry, University of Ontario, Institute of Technology

Professor Perry outlined the law and practice in North America, and highlighted the deficiencies in the current regimes. She spoke about the progress in research into the criminological aspects of hate crime and raised several questions about future developments in this area.

Session One: The protected characteristics in hate crime – the blameless victim?

Dr Kay Goodall, Stirling University

Hate crime and vulnerability

Kay Goodall suggested that ‘hate crimes’ should be defined differently from crimes that are carried out against ‘vulnerable victims’ – even though in practice these will often overlap. She argued that hate crime challenges the longstanding experience of frequent and serious discrimination. In contrast, a vulnerable victim need not be a member of any such group at all. Calling victims of hate crime ‘vulnerable victims’ may lead to serious misunderstanding, too: we can all be in vulnerable situations but victims of hate crime may be singled out even when they are not in vulnerable situations. Focusing on vulnerability also tends to emphasise special treatment, rather than repairing an unfair disadvantage. That can stigmatise those groups. It can furthermore encourage the state to focus on protection, rather than treating such crimes as a criminal problem for society.

Baljit Ubhey, Chief Crown Prosecutor, Thames and Chiltern CPS

Elder crime and hate crime

Baljit Ubhey’s presentation focused on the issue of elder abuse and posed the question whether this should be regarded as a hate crime. The CPS has a policy on elder abuse which ensures such cases are flagged so performance can be tracked. The policy was discussed but it was recognised that currently under the legislation elder abuse is not categorised as a hate crime. The sentencing guidelines were discussed which in assault cases do highlight that the victim being elderly is an aggravating factor for an increased sentence. The different ways in which elderly people can be targeted for criminal offences was explained and given the fact that we are an aging population it was recognised that it was timely to have a discussion about elder abuse and its status within criminal legislation.

Una Morris, Helpline Operators Officer/Caller Care Advocate

What victims want

Una Morris began by outlining the background to Stop Hate UK and explained the work that the charity does to raise awareness of Hate Crime and support the individuals and communities it affects. She then considered the question of what victims of Hate Crime want. Una did this by exploring the powerful case studies of five anonymous individual victims of Hate Crime. For each of the victims, she told their story and recounted what they had said they wanted. Una concluded that there were common themes identified by all victims of Hate Crime, including the desire to be believed, listened to and to have their experiences recognised. She also considered that even if some victims don’t want multi-agency support or criminal justice intervention at a particular moment in time, all victims want to know that support exists and that if they do require support, that it can be accessed. Una finally stated that all victims of Hate Crime share the want to no longer be victimised.

Session Two: Hate and Blame in Context

Chara Bakalis, Oxford Brookes University

Hate Crime Law and Equality

Chara Bakalis explored the relationship between hate crime legislation and the broader equality agenda. She explained how the conceptual models traditionally used to define the parameters of hate crime legislation sit awkwardly with deeply held criminal law principles. This poses a challenge for lawyers who recognise the need for such laws, but also appreciate the importance of justifying their existence in accordance with core criminal law values. She argued that considering the issue from an equality perspective may provide a theoretical framework for hate crime legislation which can be more easily accommodated within current criminal law structures. This will have implications for the way in which we construct and interpret current legislation, but will also affect the direction it may take in future.

Professor David Nash, Oxford Brookes University

A historical perspective on hate and blame

Professor Nash draw parallels between current developments in hate crime law and Norbert Elias’s theory of the civilising process.

Monica Fitzpatrick, Research Manager, Challenge Hate Crime Project

Sectarianism: Thoughts from Northern Ireland

Monica Fitzpatrick, Research Manager for the Challenge Hate Crime Project gave a presentation on the issue of Sectarianism in Northern Ireland and described a very useful case study of how people lived separate lives in the City of Belfast. This informed us of the very real and lived experiences of difference within and across a community of people in a divided society. This still exists many years after the peace process and a period of transition still very much exists.

Session Three: Beyond the hate crime prosecution – Remedy over blame

Professor Peter Edge, Oxford Brookes University

Civil and quasi-civil remedies to hate crime

Professor Peter W Edge widened out the discussion by considering alternate routes to remedies for victims of hate crime. Looking to developments in the US and international law for inspiration, he considered routes for the development of ‘hate wrongs’ rather than ‘hate crimes’. He argued that a dignitary rights view of aggravated damages fit well with the mischief of hate crimes, for those victims willing and able to pursue a tortious remedy; while the compensation order route had potential to provide an additional remedy to victims more generally.

Hugh Matthews, Chief Inspector, Head of Equality and Diversity, Thames Valley Police

The Challenges hate poses to government agencies

Chief Inspector Matthews focused his attention on government agencies and what they can do to help the victims of hate crime. He outlined the prerequisites required to ensure an effective response from the police, and outlined the current organisational barriers that need to be overcome in order to achieve this. He highlighted the need for a multi-agency approach which will encourage greater reporting of hate crime incidents, and which will provide a broad based support network which will alleviate the suffering of victims. He ended by emphasising the need to view the problem as one for the whole of society if hate crime is to be overcome at a structural level.

General findings

Professor Barbara Perry was keen to highlight the ways in which UK law and practice in this area is comparatively well-developed. This is predominantly a result of key interactions between different state actors, activists and private individuals. This joined-up approach needs to continue, but there are still areas where improvements can be made. This is particularly the case in terms of raising awareness of the problem of hate crime and shared thinking about how best to tackle the problem on the ground.

Another key point which emerged was the continued need for criminal lawyers to be involved with the development of legislation in this area. Legal analysis, however, needs to focus more on the question of why we legislate against hate, rather than take the hostile approach of whether we ought to. It is also necessary to reflect on the ways in which the current law needs to evolve in the future through careful consideration of who the victims of hate crime are, and whether the criminal law is the best method by which their interests should be protected.

Finally, it became clear that we need to place more emphasis to the needs of victims of hate crime in order to understand how best to help them. Hate crime is a very real problem, not just for the individuals concerned, but also for the communities which are blighted by systematic hateful behaviour. Support of victims, however, needs to be broader based than it currently is and involve the whole community and not just government agencies.