Inspectorate praise West Yorkshire's approach to tackling hate crime (19 July 2018)

West Yorkshire Police's approach to tackling hate crime has been singled out for praise in a report looking at how police deal with hate crime nationally.

Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Service's (HMICFRS) Hate Crime Thematic Report highlights the work that West Yorkshire Police has done with partner agencies to encourage reporting and ensure that hate crimes and incidents are investigated appropriately.

The Force has dedicated Hate Crime Coordinators in each of the five policing districts and the inspectorate recognised the knowledge and enthusiasm that the individuals in these roles bring to the organisation.

Each of the districts also have established hate crime scrutiny panels in place involving independent members of the public and partners. This regular scrutiny of how the Force has investigated hate crimes allows for continual development and improvement.

HMICFRS also praised the use of a Multi Agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC) process in Leeds for hate crime. Although traditionally used for crimes such as domestic abuse, extending its use to hate crime, and incorporating Victim Support, has helped to safeguard the most vulnerable victims. West Yorkshire Police is looking at rolling this out to other areas of the Force.

Chief Constable Dee Collins, of West Yorkshire Police, said: "We were pleased to have been identified in advance of the inspection as a police force with good practices towards religious or faith hate crime. It should be stressed though that we are committed to tackling any crime motivated by hostility or prejudice and strive to provide the best possible service to all victims and witnesses.

"While the work that West Yorkshire Police does in this area was singled out for praise, we are not complacent and, since this inspection, have already put further investment into local policing to provide even more robust governance arrangements and ensure our delivery of hate crime recording, investigation and victim care is as good as it can be."

The inspectorate looked at the different options available for victims of hate crime in West Yorkshire to report offences. West Yorkshire Police supports national hate crime reporting services such as Tell MAMA, CST and StopHate UK and has worked with local authorities and partners to create local hate crime reporting centres across West Yorkshire. The local centres are regularly reviewed to ensure they are in the right locations for communities.

Another method for victims to report hate crime or incidents is by the True Vision website and the HMICFRS report makes mention of the way the Force positively responds to any such reports received from True Vision.

"The report rightly identifies the effort that has gone into working with strategic partners who offer alternative reporting routes than the police for people from our diverse communities who need to report crimes or incidents," Chief Constable Collins added.

"Being the target of a hate crime or incident can be devastating for the victim but can also have repercussions in the wider community. We know that hate crime has traditionally been under-reported and it is vital that victims and witnesses feel confident in reporting offences, whether that is directly to the police or to another agency."

Mark Burns-Williamson, West Yorkshire's Police & Crime Commissioner, said: "Suffering hate just because of who you are is completely unacceptable and is something we absolutely do not tolerate in West Yorkshire.

"I made tackling hate crime a priority in my Police and Crime Plan early on, including recognising hate incidents and working with partners to prevent escalation. It's reassuring to see that the HMICFRS report highlights a number of areas where our approach in West Yorkshire is seen as good practice. This is no doubt a reflection of the hard work of our officers, staff, volunteers and community representatives who have been jointly involved and is something that both West Yorkshire Police and myself regularly monitor and promote throughout the year.

"The report specifically notes how crucial the support to victims and witnesses is and we have collectively worked hard to ensure they feel confident to come forward and receive the appropriate support and care. I hope this helps and encourages even more people to come forward and report hate crime, but know that we regularly need to review our practices working closely with others.

"A host of work has been done and is on-going, I have helped fund Victims Hubs in every district of West Yorkshire where anyone affected by crime can go and get the support they need. I have also directly funded and worked with a host of dedicated community groups and charities who are working to raise awareness of hate crime, support victims and prevent incidents from taking place in the first place, such as the ground breaking Stop Hate UK who created a free smartphone app for reporting hate crime and is unique to West Yorkshire

"If you have experienced hate crime please report it to the police or a partner organisation, and you will be listened to and receive the appropriate support."

Supporting quotes from partner agencies:

Mark Gardner, Community Security Trust's (CST) Director of Communications, said: "Jewish communities have built good working relationships with West Yorkshire Police and CST encourages all victims of antisemitic hate crimes and non-crime incidents to report them as soon as possible. Doing so enables to police to respond speedily and effectively."

Byron Francis, Bradford Hate Crime Alliance Coordinator, said: "Bradford Hate Crime Alliance provides a range of reporting pathways for victims and others to report hate crimes and incidents.

"Bradford Hate Crime Alliance works in partnership with a diverse range of partners, ensuring we have a joint up approach to tackling all forms of hate and intolerance. Together we operate a formal structure for reporting hate crime within our communities and supporting victims and their families."

© Copyright West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner 2019