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To What Extent Can The Police Effectively Prevent Hate Crimes?

2615 words - 10 pages

We can trace the origin of hate crime back to the Roman Empire; however in the US what we now call hate crime were executed by the Klu Klux Klan following the Civil War (Salami, 2012). In the UK the term hate crime began to be used after World War Two and official recognition occurred after the urban riots of 1981. The murder of Stephen Lawrence was a development in highlighting that problems of hate crime existed but were not being acknowledged. The only Criminal Justice Agency that will investigate hate crime is the Police. Although many laws and policies have been put in place since then to protect individuals from hate crime, much more is still to be done but the progress already achieved cannot be ignored (Williams, 2009).
What constitutes a crime in one place may not be in another place and hate crime has many diverse definitions but law enforcement in the UK define it as “Hate crime involves any criminal offence which is perceived, by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by hostility or prejudice based on a personal characteristic” (Home Office, 2013). However Hall, (2005) says that the word “hate crime” is not very helpful as it can be misleading. Simply hate crime is a criminal offence which is driven by hate whether that is due to a person’s identity, race, religion, faith or sexual orientation.
Hate crimes damage the feelings of security of not only the victim but also the wider community or people who share the same characteristic as the victim because it is their identity which is being specifically targeted (Iganski, 2008). Hate crimes are often committed by groups of young people (Gerstenfeld, 2004) and the majority of hate crimes are due to thrill, defensive and retaliatory and they are largely carried out in public places such as on streets, paths and parks (Chakraborth, 2010). Although law enforcement and agencies have tried to improve responses to hate crime, there are still problems that have been addressed but are yet to be solved such as a mistrust amongst minority groups and problems with legislation because as Mason-Bish (2010) argues, discussions around victim based groups can bring about perceptions of unfairness where one group is better protected by law than another group.
Laws have been put in place to protect individuals from hate crime and discrimination both in the workplace and in public. The Public Order Act, (1986) created a number of public order offences. The Crime and Disorder Act, (1998) introduced anti-social behaviour orders and a section dedicated to racially or religiously aggravated offences. The Criminal Justice Act 2003 amended the law relating to police powers such as prosecution and appeals. The Equality Act 2010 introduced equal treatment both in private and public services for individuals (Home Office, 2011). After the murder of Stephen Lawrence, The McPherson report was released, It contained 70 recommendations that would show racism was would not be tolerated if acted upon. However...

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