Council Pledges Action In Hate Crime Awareness Week
- Hate Crime Awareness Week is seeking to bring people together to tackle all forms of prejudice and hate
- The Council is an active member of Reading's Community Safety Partnership which works to reduce and prevent offences including hate crime
- Advice for countering hate crime online includes reporting and blocking posts and users on social media
READING Borough Council is strongly supportive of the messaging of Hate Crime Awareness Week, which began yesterday, and is highlighting some of the ways that it works with others to defeat hate in our communities year-round.
Regrettably, local statistics have shown that hate crime offences in Reading rose to 801 in the last 12 months from 649 in the previous year, with disability and homophobic offences seeing the biggest increases.
The Council is fully committed to fighting against hate crime and reducing that figure through our active partnership work as part of the Community Safety Partnership alongside Thames Valley Police, Royal Berkshire Fire & Rescue, the probation service, Brighter Futures for Children and other organisations. That work looks to reduce, prevent and tackle this and other types of crime. It also supports victims on a case-by-case basis and takes tenancy-related action against any Council tenants perpetrating hate incidents or crimes.
A hate crime public forum is planned for November in conjunction with partners, which the public will be invited to attend. More details will be released when available. Reading Borough Council works alongside Thames Valley Police, ACRE (Alliance for Cohesion and Racial Equality) and other community members in regularly holding hate crime security panels to review cases of hate crime within the Borough.
Reading's Community Safety Partnership is currently writing its new strategy and plan, which will include a priority to improve how it will be looking to work with communities in tackling hate crimes. Further information will be published in January, when the strategy is launched.
Hate crimes are any crimes that are targeted at a person because of hostility or prejudice towards their race or ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation/identity or disability. The Council is encouraging residents to take a stand against hate crime by reporting any issues that they witness or are victims of. If it is an emergency or someone is in immediate danger, then you should call 999. In any other cases residents should either report it to Thames Valley Police online or by calling 101.
The public need to be aware that increasing incidents of hateful extremism are taking place digitally, with extremists using social media and gaming platforms more frequently to spread their ideology, conspiracy theories and fake news. There is active targeting of young and vulnerable people to exploit and influence them and even to justify acts of violence against individuals and communities. Advice on how to counter this includes:
- Don't feed the trolls – resist the urge to respond as even if you win an argument, for a troll the important thing is how many people see their propaganda.
- Block, mute and report inappropriate social media content – you can put a quick halt to hate crimes on social media. On Facebook you can click the three dots at the top right of a post that will allow you to hide or report it, and unfollow people or sites. On Twitter you can block people whose comments you don’t like and report them, and in the security and privacy section you can protect your tweets so people can only follow you if you approve them first. You can also report Youtube videos for hateful or abusive content.
- Look after yourself and those around you - switch off your devices and go for a walk, talk to a friend or do something else you like together that doesn't require technology.
Cllr Karen Rowland, Reading Borough Council’s Lead Member for Neighbourhoods and Communities, said:
“It is really important to bring attention to hate crime this week. There is absolutely no place for this behaviour in Reading and Stop Hate UK’s #SpreadLoveNotHate hashtag resonates strongly in Reading. Our town is an inclusive place to live where we celebrate the differences between people, and the vast majority of residents treasure that aspect of living in Reading. As such it is crucial that the acceptance and tolerance of others shown by the vast majority is not overshadowed by the hateful and small actions of a few. We will always work with our partners in ensuring that hate crime is dealt with effectively and robustly when it does rear its ugly head. As an integral part of the Community Safety Partnership, Reading Borough Council is committed to continuing to tackle hate crime and to ensure that all of our residents can feel safe and confident in our town wherever they may choose to be”.