Today (Thursday 29 August), Newcastle University will host the Law Commission for the first time in the city. The event has been organised by Tyne and Wear Citizens to give voice to those who experience hate crime first hand in the region.
Over 40 women from a variety of North East institutions, including Newcastle Central Mosque, Rape Crisis Tyneside and Northumberland, as well as Newcastle University, will give evidence in this opportunity to discuss current criminal law and the many forms of hate crime. They will speak to Kim McGuinness, among other Commissioners, who is the newly appointed Police and Crime Commissioner for Northumbria and the youngest PCC in the country.
Hate crimes in England and Wales have risen by 40% since the 2016 Brexit referendum
Since the announcement of a review into hate crime in September 2018, the Law Commission has been looking at ways to make current legislation more effective, as well as increasing the protection and safeguarding of those most at risk. Amina Razak, a researcher at the University of Sunderland, has found from her work that many women, especially Muslim women, do not feel understood and protected by the current legislation. However, the work of Citizens UK with the Law Commission “comes at a crucial time when hate crime is rising”. According to Home Office figures, hate crimes in England and Wales have risen by 40% over the last three years since the 2016 Brexit referendum, with significant increases in crimes motivated by race, religion, gender and sexuality.
This event may prove to be another success for the Tyne and Wear branch of Citizens UK, who work with leaders from diverse institutions to tackle community problems, bring about change on issues and fight social injustice. In 2018, they published their first Hate Crime Charter that aims to raise awareness of and reduce incidents of hate crime on public transport in the North East.
Listening to these women from the North East’s experiences will positively contribute to the review and discussion of national policy on hate crime. Currently, criminal law does not give equal protection to all victims of hate crimes. For example, someone who suffers hostility or violence because of their disability is not provided with the same protection as someone who experiences a racially motivated attack.
Misogyny will hopefully be classed as a criminal offence
It is hoped that the results of the Law Commission Review allow for the alignment of policy, so all victims of the different forms of hate crime are equally protected. Misogyny will hopefully also be classed as a criminal offence, for which Citizens UK have been campaigning for over two years. The findings of the review are expected in March 2020, so for now, as Rochelle Artus, of West End Women and a leader with Tyne and Wear Citizens states, “(It will be) a great opportunity to truly have our voices heard and strengthen hate crime laws.”
Last modified: 29th August 2019