Over the past year, independent charity Victim Support has seen an increase of almost 11% in the number of people seeking support after experiencing a hate crime, compared to the previous year, with the rise driven by disability, sexual orientation and transgender-identity related crimes.
The overwhelming majority of the charity’s hate crime cases (71%) were race and nationality-related, which increased by 8% compared to the previous year. Referrals to Victim Support’s services spiked following the Euro 2020 final football game.
Victim Support also reports a disturbing 22% increase in the number of people seeking support for disability hate crime, as well as nearly a 20% increase in sexual orientation-related crimes.
While numbers of transgender identity-related crimes remain lower than others, their overall percentage soared by almost 45% compared to the same period the previous year.
Diana Fawcett, Victim Support’s Chief Executive, said,
“It is both concerning and disheartening that our figures reflect this significant increase in hate crimes across the country.
“We are alarmed to see that the number of victims seeking support for race and nationality-related hate remain high, and we strongly condemn all types of racist abuse. It’s also worrying that there has been a huge jump in the number of people seeking support for disability, homophobic and transgender-identity related hate crimes, which we’ve seen have a damaging effect on the victim’s sense of safety, well-being and self-worth.
“However, as hate crime is often under-reported, the observed increase may be the result of the easing of lockdown restrictions, making it easier for more victims to come forward and seek support, as well as increasing their confidence to report incidences.
“For Hate Crime Awareness Week, Victim Support wants to state clearly that there is no place for hate within our society. We remain committed to supporting anyone who has been affected by hate crime as well informing and educating communities about its consequences and the support available. No one should feel unsafe because of who they are and we urge everyone to play their part in preventing these acts.”
Martin Davies, 48 years old, from Wales, who was a victim of hate crime, said: “We were relentlessly targeted because of my wife’s disability and it had a profound effect on the whole family. The harassment and the bullying that we experienced was too much to bear, and so severe, that my youngest daughter now suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder.
“In the end we had to re-locate to get away from it all and no one should have to suffer the way that we did. That’s why, I volunteer at Victim Support and I share my story to empower others to report abusive behaviour. There should be no place for hate crime in society, especially not because of your disability or the way you look.”
Hate crime often affects the most vulnerable, which makes it difficult for them to seek help, leading many to suffer in silence. The impacts of this can be both devastating and wide ranging as hate crime can lead to social isolation and exclusion, while also negatively affecting people’s mental, physical and financial wellbeing.
At its most extreme, people are made homeless, forced to leave an area or made to feel so unsafe that they choose to move away. It can also result in financial loss from repairing damages, dealing with graffiti, replacing possessions and increasing home and personal security. Hate crime has additional, less visible harmful impacts across societies. It can fuel intolerance in our cities, schools and workplaces. This intolerance feeds into exclusionary narratives, ultimately perpetuating hate across our communities.
Victim Support provides practical help and emotional support to victims of all crimes, including hate crime, whether or not the incident has been reported to the police. Anyone seeking help or information can access Victim Support’s online resource, My Support Space, a secure and confidential space where victims can choose on how they want to be supported after crime. Visit www.mysupportspace.org.uk/moj or contact the charity’s free 24/7 Supportline on 0808 16 89 111.