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Hate crime affects whole communities, not just the targeted victims, finds University of Sussex study

A major five-year study from the University of Sussex shows empirically, for the first time, that hate crime affects entire communities, rather than just the individuals who are targeted.

The report is published today, Friday 12 January, to coincide with an event in London to share its findings with law makers and charities. Over 3,000 LGBT and Muslim people participated in the study.

Professor Rupert Brown, a psychologist at the University of Sussex and part of the Sussex Hate Crime Project, which undertook the study, said:

“Our major five-year study into hate incidents against members of the LGBT and Muslim communities shows for the first time that hate crimes and hate incidents do not just affect the immediate victims but have serious consequences for their communities as a whole. 

"Hate crimes spread fear and anger throughout communities. Individuals do not have to be targeted themselves to be affected – simply knowing someone who has been victimised is sufficient to cause harm.

“The reason for that is that, when LGBT and Muslim people read about a hate crime, they are more likely to make people feel vulnerable, anxious, angry or ashamed, compared with non-hate motivated crime. Such reactions are also likely to cause them to change their behaviour – for example, to avoid certain situations or places where they may be more at risk of abuse.

"That is important because some public commentators dismiss hate crime as having no greater impact on communities than other types of crime. We’ve now shown that is not the case.

“We also show that both LGBT and Muslim people are unlikely to report hate crimes to the police, but, even more worryingly, that when Muslim people do report offences to the police, they are more likely to perceive that the police are ineffective at dealing with these crimes, than if they did not report them at all.”

Consistent with official statistics, the study found that direct hate crime and hate incidents are widespread in Britain:

  • over 80% of LGBT and Muslim people in our research have experienced some online hate abuse;
  • over 70% of those same communities have been directly victimised in the past three years; and 
  • over 80% of our LGBT and Muslim research participants knew of someone else who had been subject to a hate incident in the past three years.

Professor Brown continued:

“What is now required, to address the pernicious harms to communities caused by hate crimes, is: greater use of community impact statements in courts, more use of restorative justice which our respondents broadly support, and more dedicated specially trained police officers to deal with victims in a way which inspires their confidence.”

This study was funded by the Leverhulme Trust. It used individual interviews, questionnaire surveys and social psychological experiments.


By: Anna Ford
Last updated: Tuesday, 12 June 2018

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