Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

Oxford Brookes launches project to examine 'hate crime' legislation

Thursday, 15 March 2012

On 2 March, at Headington Hill Hall, a meeting took place between some of Britain’s top minds working on the issue of hate crime, including members of the police, the Crown Prosecution Service, a hate crime campaign and support group and leading academics. This Steering Group meeting is the first part of a three-stage research project exploring hate speech and crime from the perspective of doctrinal legal scholarship. While a great deal of work has been done on the criminological aspects of this legislation, this project aims to fill the gap in contemporary discussion on the doctrinal issues by considering questions such as the groups to be protected by hate crime law, and whether the courts are being consistent in their application of the law? The makeup of the Steering Group reflects both Oxford Brookes’ commitment to working with the local community and with key professionals. It included Hugh Matthews, Chief Inspector of Thames Valley Police, Baljit Ubhey, Chief Crown Prosecutor for the Thames Valley and Group Chair for the Crown Prosecution Service for Hertfordshire & Bedfordshire, Rose Simkins, Chief Executive at StopHate UK, an organisation which offers training and support to communities and individuals dealing with hate speech and crime, and Monica Fitzpatrick from the Northern Ireland Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders. They were joined by top academics from England and Scotland with extensive experience in hate crime issues. Kay Goodall, from the School of Law at the University of Stirling has conducted research on sectarianism, racism and hate crime in Scotland. Oxford Brookes, who hosted the event, was represented from Law by Professor Peter Edge and Chara Bakalis (joint chairs of the Steering Group) and historian, Professor David Nash. Professor Nash’s expertise in blasphemy law led to him giving evidence at a House of Lords Select Committee on Religious Offences in England and Wales in 2002, and being invited last year to brief members of the Irish government on that country’s blasphemy laws. The Steering Group has planned the next stage of the project, a colloquium in June this year involving academics and legal practitioners, UK policy makers and implementers, UK third-sector organisations, an international keynote speaker, and representatives from potential funders. Chara Bakalis said “Hate crime raises extremely complex issues of both social policy and legal drafting. A key aim of our project is to improve the links between the academic and the practitioner debates in this area. The invaluable support of the Steering Group will help us do this”.