HATE CRIME CAMPAIGN BY HOME OFFICE CONTRADICTS TOP COPS
The Home Office has launched a campaign to raise awareness of hate crimes. Unfortunately according to law enforcement officials, hate crimes cannot be realistically enforced because of massive ongoing cuts to police departments, nationwide.
The video, display and outdoor campaign draws attention to the criminality of targeting people based on their race, religion, disability, sexual orientation or transgender identity with perpetrators faces being covered up as police sketches and the tagline, ‘It’s not just offensive. It’s an offense.’ It communicates a strong rebuke of the casual abuses and harassing acts that too many face and reminder that hate crimes involve speech, not merely violence. Andy Tighe, director of communications at the Home Office says of the campaign that, “It is important to reassure communities that the government is taking hate crime seriously.” The Law Commission is also reviewing the possibility of adding misogynistic and ageist acts to fall under the classification of hate crimes.
Creatively, the M&C Saatchi London-designed campaign is completely on target, yet the message remains at odds with reality. Both the Met Police’s top officer, chief commissioner Cressida Dick and chair of the National Police Chiefs’ Council, chief constable Sara Thornton, have publicly expressed how stretched the police services are already, making it necessary for the forces to essentially triage the policing of crimes to prioritise violent offenses like knife crimes. Both top officers indicate they don’t have the resources to police current incidents of hate crimes, let alone broaden the definition to include crimes against women and the elderly. Police chiefs have stated that in England and Wales they have 20,000 fewer officers and 20% less funding for the police services than they did in 2010.
A report from the government watchdog corroborates Dick’s and Thornton’s statements. Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services states that between 2014-2017 hate crimes have roughly doubled and that although forces are supposed to visit those reporting hate crimes with an hour, 65% of forces in England and Wales ignore this policy, often taking days to follow up – if at all. The report also indicated that religious hate crimes are likely to increase post-Brexit. Hate crimes and awareness of hate crimes may be up but enforcement is not.
The campaign brings to light tensions and communication failures between lawmakers, enforcement officials and the public. This campaign by the Home Office is declaring that hate crimes are a priority but the police say differently. It’s hard to know how many crimes aren’t being enforced adequately because of austerity cuts (that are apparently over) and how they affect the safety of the public. A campaign that makes people aware of the scope of hate crimes is at once important and disturbing, knowing that these crimes will continue and likely increase with limited consequences.
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