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Focus on racial and religious hate crime

In Avon and Somerset 79.6% of recorded hate crimes in 2014/15 were racial. Read how one neighbourhood team are working with their community to tackle this.

What is racial/ religious hate crime?

A hate crime is any criminal offence that is motivated by a prejudice or hate. Racial hate crime can be anything which focuses on the victim’s race, skin colour, ethnic origin or nationality (including against gypsies and travellers). Religious hate crime is a crime against someone for their religion or belief, or their lack of religious belief.

An officer’s view

In 2010 Southmead had the highest rate of reported hate crime in Bristol. One officer explains how the neighbourhood team did to help the victims and the community suffering from racial hate crime.


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“At one point I was carrying 11 crimes in relation to race hate, just in Southmead. I was able to liaise with SARI at the time and in July 2010 “Planet Southmead“ was formed. We identified that victims of race hate in Southmead were truly suffering in silence and in isolation."

"We had a varied cross section of victims from countries such as Caribbean, Philippines, Somalia etc. These victims were able to attend the Planet Southmead meetings with partners from Housing and Youth services etc where they could share their experiences and actions from appropriate agencies could be discussed there and then in order to address their individual needs.

In the October a BBC Panorama programme was broadcast further highlighting the issues in Southmead and the need for Planet Southmead. We jointly secured funding to run for another 4 years. Suspects from the Panorama film were identified immediately by the Neighbourhood Policing Team and convictions, evictions and custodial sentences were secured.”

The Neighbourhood Policing Team in Southmead have also worked closely with the increasing Polish population of the area and benefits immensely by the presence of PCSO Tomasz Sadowski who runs regular beat surgeries in the polish shops that have sprung up in the area.

“Tom visits Fonthill school on a Saturday morning as it turns into a Polish school for the day. We have met with SARI recently in relation to ongoing problems with bullying towards Polish children in local parks. From this we have identified a need to call on our partners in Learning Partnership West who manage provisions such as “The Ranch” and Southmead youth centre. The Polish families have expressed concerns that they do not feel part of the community and when incidents happen they feel it is not appropriate to call the Police. We have arranged to have the children visit The Ranch and the youth centre to reinforce that fact that it is there for all.

"We have identified that there may be some mistrust of police due to lack of trust of Polish Police. We now have a dedicated Polish section on the Southmead Neighbourhood Police Team webpage and continue to provide valuable support to victims and witness from the Polish community. Due to Tom’s commitment to this cause we have already had members of the Polish community come forward and add to the community intelligence picture in Southmead. We will continue to build on this as the Polish population continues to grow.”

The Southmead neighbourhood policing team, along with other teams across the force area work closely with local schools to give talks on various subjects including Race Hate.

“We have dealt with several incidents in schools by way of community resolution and we have found this way of working invaluable when tackling Race Hate bullying in schools as it has worked to educate rather than punish the perpetrator."

"The trust we have with our schools in Southmead is enormous."

"This was evident in a recent incident involving the incitement of Race Hate via “facebook” targeted towards the Muslim community at the school. The distress that this caused was terrible for all and had potential to escalate very quickly if it wasn’t for the school having immediate access to the neighbourhood team in order to intervene. The suspect was arrested for the appropriate offence and this gave out a very strong message to others involved in other negative social media. Due to the prompt action from the School staff and trust in the local policing team, the discussions at the school gate were changed to prevention and understanding rather than hatred and misinformation.

"The value of police contact to the schools is crucial. It serves to set the tone for the next generations who will grow up in an area that continues to grow in diversity. The young will struggle with the area’s history and parental attitudes to this subject and may have a negative response to authority such as teachers and police. Early intervention is key to trust and understanding to the future generation in Southmead as I feel the area is currently struggling with its identity and attitudes towards minorities by way of race, sexuality and disability.”

How to report a hate crime or where to get advice

The aim of our campaign is to help encourage victims and witnesses of hate incidents - whether it is verbal, physical or on social media - to report it to the police or other relevant organisations. Improved recording of these crimes will enable a better understanding and help identify and improve services for victims in communities where hate crimes are evident.

Anyone with information about a hate incident is asked to report it either by calling 999 in an emergency or 101 in a non-emergency or in person at a police station

We would prefer to speak to you on the phone or in person, however if contacting us online is the safest way for you to get in touch, you can complete our online reporting form.

If you don’t want to contact us directly please use an independent agency or report it online at www.report-it.org.uk