As mentioned in my previous post, I really enjoyed the two taught modules in my final semester here at the University of Leicester. As I spent the last post discussing a key issue within the Forensic Science and Criminal Justice module, it seems only fair that I dedicate this post to hate crime.
Before I introduce one of the key aspects for the future of hate crime, it would perhaps be useful to introduce a definition as many people do not realise exactly what the term entails. The overall umbrella term ‘hate crime’ covers both hate crimes (criminal offences) and hate incidents (which are not criminal offences).
According to the College of Policing, a hate incident is defined as any non-crime incident which is perceived, by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by a hostility or prejudice based on a person’s race or perceived race, religion, sexual orientation, disability or against someone who is or perceived to be transgender.
In contrast, according to the same source, a hate crime is defined as any criminal offence which is perceived, by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by a hostility or prejudice based on a person’s race or perceived race, religion, sexual orientation, disability or against someone who is or perceived to be transgender.
Arguably the most important words from those definitions is the term ‘actual or perceived’. In other words, anyone can become the victim of a hate crime. For example, you might not be religious, but suppose you are anti-abortion, it is possible that you will be perceived to be religious.
Going forward, one of the most fascinating debates within the field is the question of whether misogyny should become a hate crime or not. Liberal Democrat MP Joanne Swinson believes that it should. You can read about her views here:
What do you think? Do you agree that the law should be changed?
I’m approximately 90 per cent supportive of Swinson’s views. Sexism, harassment and sexist comments, are, of course, wrong. If a change in the law to add a 6th monitored strand of hate crime will help minimise such behaviour, and it seems impossible that it would not, then I’m hoping for a change in the law sooner rather than later.
However, I do have two concerns.
Firstly, we must be careful to not reverse the sexism and assume that sexism and harassment are always committed by men against women. Is anybody seriously going to suggest that women never make sexist comments against men or a woman has never sexually harassed a man? Of course not! Just because it is far rarer does not mean that it should be forgotten about. With that in mind, I would like the 6th monitored strand to become sex as opposed to misogyny.
Secondly, I would hope that if (or when) such a new law does come in, society will still retain some small semblance of common sense. Genuine sexism and harassment must be fought at all costs. But I know men who are scared of giving their female friends compliments on their looks for fear that they will be misinterpreted. Unless some degree of common sense is applied, some people will be spending half their lives in the police station. The key, of course, will be to provide very clear and specific guidance over what will and will not constitute a hate incident.
I would like to end this post by stating on the record how good I believe the Hate Crime module is. It has sensible timetabling (one 3 hour teaching session each week), is taught by two of the most passionate and knowledgeable academics within the Department of Criminology (Neil Chakraborti and Stevie-Jade Hardy) and has a very broad assignment question which gives every student the chance to focus on areas of the module that has most interested them. Granted, it’s not the most light-hearted of topics, but if you wanted a light-hearted degree then do not consider studying criminology. I would highly recommend that all students who come to Leicester to study the BSc Criminology choose Hate Crime as one of their 3rd year options.
More information on the degree can be found at this link: