Policing of Race Hate Crime under review

20 November 2015

The policing of Race Hate Crime will be the subject of a Human Rights Thematic Review to be completed by the Northern Ireland Policing Board. The Board has a statutory duty to monitor the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) for compliance with the Human Rights Act 1998 and this latest review will examine how police meet their responsibilities in dealing with racially motivated hate crime.

Speaking about the review Chair of the Board’s Performance Committee Jonathan Craig MLA said:

“Race hate crime within our society has been on the increase and there has been considerable discussion and public commentary on this issue. The Board’s job is policing oversight and making sure the police are working to address and deal with race hate crime. It is vital that victims are confident the police will respond appropriately, that measures are in place to support victims and the police are pursuing and charging those behind race hate crime attacks. This review will consider the key areas that contribute to that.”

A racial group is defined as being a group of persons defined by reference to race, colour, nationality or ethnic or national origin and references to a person’s racial group refer to any racial group into which he or she falls. For example, racial group includes the Irish Traveller community. The thematic review will consider the PSNI approach to policing with and for those individuals and in particular its compliance with the Human Rights Act 1998 in, but not limited to:

• Identifying, recording and encouraging the reporting of race hate crimes, including offences of incitement to racial hatred;

• Supporting victims of race hate crime;

• Investigating race hate crime and arresting and prosecuting the perpetrators;

• Effectiveness of the police use of statutory powers to prosecute race hate crime;

• Strategies to combat race hate crime;

• Supporting police officers and staff from minority ethnic communities; and

• Engaging with external partners and stakeholders.

Mr Craig encouraged anyone with a view to make a submission to the inquiry. He said: “The Board is keen to hear from interested individuals and organisations on this issue and will facilitate roundtable discussions as part of the consultation. Written submissions should be received by Friday 20th February 2015 and it is planned to publish the report in Spring 2015.”

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For further information, please contact the Northern Ireland Policing Board’s Communications Office on 07801738795.

Notes to editors

1. Policing Board's duty to monitor PSNI human rights compliance: The Policing Board has a statutory duty under s.3(3)(b)(ii) of the Police (Northern Ireland) Act 2000 to monitor the performance of the Police Service of Northern Ireland in complying with the Human Rights Act 1998. The Board’s Performance Committee is responsible for this area of work.

2. Terms of Reference for the Thematic Review.

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. All human rights are universal, interdependent, indivisible and interrelated. The Human Rights Act 1998 requires the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), as a public authority, to uphold and protect the fundamental rights and freedoms of individuals that are enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR). The Northern Ireland Policing Board has a statutory duty to monitor the performance of the PSNI in complying with the Human Rights Act 1998.

In recognising that discrimination and abuse based on race is an issue of grave concern within Northern Ireland, that must be addressed with some urgency, the Board through its Performance Committee, is commencing a thematic review to examine policing with and for all members of the community who may be identified as being within a minority racial group.[1] This thematic review will consider specifically race hate crime. The Board will use the definition recommended by the Stephen Lawrence enquiry and adopted by PSNI, namely that a race hate crime is defined as “any incident which is perceived to be racist by the victim or any other person.” A racial group is defined as being a group of persons defined by reference to race, colour, nationality or ethnic or national origin and references to a person’s racial group refer to any racial group into which he or she falls. For example, racial group includes the Irish Traveller community.

The thematic review will consider the PSNI approach to policing with and for those individuals and in particular its compliance with the Human Rights Act 1998 in, but not limited to:

• Identifying, recording and encouraging the reporting of race hate crimes, including offences of incitement to racial hatred;

• Supporting victims of race hate crime;

• Investigating race hate crimes and arresting and prosecuting the perpetrators;

• Effectiveness of the police use of statutory powers to prosecute race hate crime;

• Strategies to combat race hate crime;

• Supporting police officers and staff from minority ethnic communities;

• Engaging with external partners and stakeholders.

This thematic will include a review of PSNI policy, operational effectiveness, training, staffing and the quality of service received by victims of race hate crime.

[1] PSNI records 6 different categories of hate crime: racist; homophobic; transphobic; disability; faith/religion (non-Sectarian); and Sectarian. This thematic review will consider racist hate crime.

3. Written submissions to this thematic review should be made by Friday 20 February 2015 and sent to:

Human Rights Advisor
Northern Ireland Policing Board
Waterside Tower BELFAST BT1 3BG

Or by email to: information@nipolicingboard.org.uk

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