Systematic underreporting must be combated to make progress on combating hate crime

FRA Director Michael O'Flaherty presents 1st copy of new hate crime report to Dutch Security & Justice Minister Ard van der Steur
FRA Director Michael O'Flaherty presents 1st copy of new hate crime report to Dutch Security & Justice Minister Ard van der Steur
The importance of fostering trust in the police as a vital element of increasing reporting of hate crime was emphasised at the opening of the last session of FRA’s Working Party on hate crime, which ends today in its current form prior to becoming a sub-group of the European Commission’s newly forming High Level Group on Racism, Xenophobia and other forms of intolerance.

FRA’s new report, Ensuring justice for hate crime victims: professional perspectives, found that the vast majority of experts interviewed believed that victims do not report their experiences because they don’t trust the police. At the same time, two thirds of respondents said the police and judiciary need to take hate crime more seriously. The report finds that changes need to be made to police culture and conduct, with measures to tackle discriminatory attitudes within police forces and the establishment of specialised units dedicated to hate crime incidents.

Encouraging reporting and improving recording of hate crime have been the focus of the Working Party since its establishment in 2014. This last meeting of the Working Party in its present form, held in cooperation with the Netherlands Presidency of the Council of the EU, included a visit to Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, where Executive Director Ronald Leopold emphasised that the objective of the museum is to fight hatred by “not so much giving history lessons but rather learning the lessons of history”.

This statement was fully in accordance with the overall message of the Working Party meeting, which was opened by FRA Director Michael O’Flaherty and Dutch Security and Justice Minister Ard van der Steur. Together, they launched an online compendium of practices for combating hate crime from across the EU, which aims to help policymakers and practitioners such as law enforcement officers understand what is being done elsewhere in the EU to combat hate crime, and which elements could be adapted for use in their own national contexts.

“To combat hate crime, we need not to generalise but to put a face on the victims,” said Michael O’Flaherty. “It is for them we are working, and it is for them that we need to work harder than ever to share the practices that are tackling hate crimes in one country and could help to tackle them in others.”

The compendium is a living document that will be revised and added to ensure the content is as rich and of much practical use as possible.