Addressing hate crimes requires proper investigation. This will ensure that hate crimes can be effectively prosecuted and sanctioned, as appropriate. This means that frontline law enforcement officers must have the right tools to identify the different forms of bias behind offences and to record that information on file. However, in many EU countries this is not the case.
Acknowledging this, the EU High Level Group on Combating Racism, Xenophobia and other forms of intolerance mandated FRA to help authorities in Member States. FRA is working with them to improve their methods of recording hate crimes and to examine how the collected data can best be statistically elaborated.
Complementing these efforts, ODIHR has been providing OSCE participating States with targeted assistance to improve hate crime data-collection systems since the launch of its Hate Crime Data Collection and Monitoring: A Practical Guide in 2014.
FRA is working with representatives of national public authorities, the European Commission, ODIHR, ECRI,- and civil society organisations in the Subgroup on Methodologies on Recording and Collecting Data on Hate Crime. Together they have agreed on certain key guiding principles. When fully implemented, these principles can improve the recording of hate crimes, and the capacity of law enforcement to deal with hate crimes and to protect victims more effectively.
Improving data collection through national workshops
Improving the way hate crimes are recorded needs to start with an assessment of current practices. National law enforcement and criminal justice bodies are best placed to identify gaps and inconsistencies in their own practices. FRA and ODIHR provide practical assistance and expertise through tailor-made workshops in local languages. The workshops rely on the key guiding principles to:
- raise awareness among law enforcement and criminal justice bodies of the need to properly record hate crimes;
- better understand gaps in existing hate crime recording and data collection practices; and
- discuss ways to improve these practices through practical steps and concrete operational measures that can be applied in the specific national context.
These workshops aim, step-by-step, to achieve a systemic change that will make a tangible difference in the way hate crimes are addressed and their victims supported.
Who should participate?
The workshops are interactive, involving no more than 25 police officers and experts: frontline police officers (first responders), officers experienced in hate crime investigation, police or relevant ministry data and IT experts, and policymakers responsible for developing standard operating procedures and official instructions on recording hate crimes and for compiling crime statistics. In addition, prosecutor’s office, judicial administration and up to two civil society organizations that carry out their own hate crime monitoring activities are invited to provide their views. The selection of participants is discussed between FRA, ODIHR and the national authority.
What is the methodology?
Prior to the workshop, FRA and ODIHR together with the national authority analyse the current situation in the Member State. In accordance with the key guiding principles, they also identify potential gaps and related issues taking national specificities into account. In this regard the focus is on:
- Police recording and flagging of hate crimes (forms; applying bias indicators; capturing bias motivation; IT systems and databases; flagging),
- Instruction or guidance on recording,
- Coordination between the actors involved.
Outcome and follow-up
The workshop identifies key issues and suggests a set of detailed technical recommendations to address these issues to effectively and efficiently register bias motivation in criminal cases. After the workshop, FRA and ODIHR summarize these outcomes in a report, which is then shared and discussed with national authorities.
FRA and ODIHR can support the implementation of the workshop’s findings. Such further assistance can be requested through the Subgroup and can involve support offered in ODIHR’s new INFAHCT (Information against Hate Crimes Toolkit) programme.
How to organise the workshop in your country
Any EU Member State interested in taking advantage of the technical assistance provided by FRA and ODIHR can email firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss potential cooperation. The workshops are tailored to the national needs, and can be organised for one or two days.
FRA and ODIHR cover their costs and sponsor the translation/interpretation, as required.
Email us at email@example.com to discuss more!
Input from participants
Five workshops have already taken place: Estonia (December 2017), Lithuania, Portugal and Poland (March 2018), and Slovakia (May 2018).
“For Estonia participation at the Subgroup workshops has been very useful as it has enabled to get a better overview of what is done in different countries for better reporting and recording of hate crimes. Direct sharing of examples (also in discussion groups) has given a clear insight also to the practical problems and challenges in different aspects of reporting/recording in different countries. […] Participation at the workshop has enabled sometimes to address certain issues on country level – referring to the practices in other countries. At the same time offering alternative solutions to improving current reporting and recording system in Estonia.”
“What was very useful, […] was enlightening them [the participants] on the broader perspective of what they actually do – showing them the overall purposes of recording and collecting data, the consequences of ineffective or incomplete recording system. […] In my opinion the delivered handouts can be very useful for the participants’ future work as those materials are very concrete and practical.”
“[…], the workshop was really useful, particularly in raising awareness of the need to record hate crimes. […]. Now, it will be easier to discuss with the police and other institutions and to develop together changes needed.”
Workshop on recording hate crime with Estonian law enforcement authorities in Vilnius, Lithuania 8 March 2018.