A. Measures to Improve the Collection of Data
The proper registration of hate crimes by police and other state authorities is essential to accurate data. Measures were taken in a number of countries to enhance registration and thus to improve the effectiveness of data collection. In some cases, the measures came in the form of instructions from senior law enforcement and criminal justice officials.
In Denmark, the Justice Minister instructed the State Advocate to collect information and material as of January 1, 2007, on cases of hate crimes that have gone to court.
In Lithuania, in 2007 the Interior Ministry instructed territorial police institutions to collect and provide information on crimes against foreigners because of their ethnicity, nationality or race.
In the Netherlands, in line with the requirements set forth by the Discrimination Directive, a directive issued every four years (most recently in December 2007) by the Board of Procurators General, regional consultations must take place between police, prosecutors, and antidiscrimination bodies concerning cases of discrimination. Focal points from the police and prosecution service are to meet with representatives from the antidiscrimination bureaus to consult on cases of discrimination, including hate crimes. A case tracking system has been developed, which will allow representatives of these three bodies to track hate crimes from the time a complaint is filed either with the police or the local antidiscrimination bureau, through court processing. As of September 2008, 22 of the 25 police jurisdictions throughout the country were working with the tracking system.
In Norway, the Equality and Antidiscrimination Ombudsman reported that a decision by the Justice Department in March 2007 requires that all incidents of hate crime be registered by the police. The Ombudsman’s Office is cooperating with the police, which have begun recording bias motivations based on ethnic origin, sexual orientation, and religion.
In several countries, measures to enhance registration were taken in the form of seminars, training workshops, and other projects and studies.
In Belgium, on November 27, 2007, the Center for Equal Opportunities and Opposition to Racism (CEOOR), Belgium’s national antidiscrimination body, organized a seminar on racist violence with various representatives from the police and courts to review the progress made in the registration of hate crimes. Since 2006, a system has been in place whereby police have been able to register bias motivations in a separate context section on crime reporting forms. The number of registered hate crimes remains small, which the CEOOR attributes to the fact that registration as such is not a priority. The police and court system apparently register hate crimes, but this information is incomplete and is not made public. The seminar was a part of efforts by the CEOOR to press the police and criminal justice authorities to systematically collect and publish such data.
In Canada, on July 18, 2008, according to news reports, the Ontario Province leadership introduced a program to train Ontario Provincial Police on the subject of hate crimes. The training aims to prepare frontline officers to identify and sensitively handle violent cases motivated by bias.
In Finland, where the police have produced annual reports on racist crimes since 1998, information on judicial responses has been lacking. Accordingly, the authorities are conducting a study on the way in which racist crimes are treated in the judicial system. The results of the study are expected to be released at the end of 2008.
In Germany, the initiative to facilitate a conference on data collection was taken by an NGO. On May 16-17, 2008, the gay rights organization Maneo organized its third European conference with representatives of police forces, government authorities, and organizations from numerous German federal states, as well as France, Poland, Spain, the Netherlands, Belgium, Ireland, and Israel. The conference focused on how light could be shed on homophobic violence and how gay and bisexual men could be better protected against attacks. Participants examined problems surrounding reporting, registration and police response to homophobic violence.
In the Netherlands, on March 20, 2008, the Dutch police launched a hate crime pilot project in two police regions. The purpose of this project was to conduct targeted outreach to members of the LGBT community with the aim of increasing hate crime reporting among the LGBT community. The project allows victims to file a confidential report and offers the victim limited anonymity. Additionally, the police are undertaking related efforts to enhance reporting by making it possible for victims to file an online report. Police are also receiving training and developing protocols that aim to systematize the line of questioning in cases of racist or homophobic violence.
In Sweden, law enforcement authorities took a number of measures in 2007 and 2008 to increase the reporting and registration of hate crimes.
- Personnel answering the police emergency phone lines were trained to identify possible hate crimes and to register the victims’ characteristics.
- As of January 2008, an additional box is available on the crime report form allowing for the registration of a suspected hate crime.
- The Swedish police have made it possible to report crimes—including hate crimes—using a form accessible through the Internet.
- Police have been given special training aimed at increasing their ability to identify and investigate hate crimes as well as to develop methods to combat them.
- Additionally, within local police departments, either all officers are being trained to recognize and respond to hate crimes, or special focal points with expertise on hate crimes are appointed.
Also in Sweden, the National Council for Crime Prevention (Brå), the body responsible for monitoring hate crimes, undertook to examine the problem of the serious data deficit as concerns violence against people with disabilities. In a report released at the end of 2007, Brå concluded that, in order to collect systematic data, it was necessary to enhance the use of the existing crime registration process by improving the level of knowledge among those working in disability care as well as those within the criminal justice system. Brå further recommended that the justice system focus on developing methods that will “increase the opportunities available to people with disabilities to make their voices heard and to be understood” in cases of violence.
In the United Kingdom, the Home Office’s data collection requirements oblige all police forces to submit certain data on bias-motivated crimes to the Home Office for national aggregation. To date, and with respect to hate crimes, forces are only required to submit data on racially and religiously aggravated offences established under the Public Order Act (covering England and Wales). In reporting, no distinction is made between racially and religiously aggravated offences, nor is it possible to further disaggregate hate crimes by race or religion.
As part of a report providing the government’s response to the 2006 All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Antisemitism, the government described a number of measures to enhance hate crime reporting, including the following:
- Pilot changes were introduced to the data collection practices, including the establishment as of April 2008 of a Home Office Data Hub. The Data Hub is to enable the analysis of data at a greater level of detail and allow officials to aggregate and disaggregate data on many levels.
- The reintroduction of online reporting facilities that allow victims and witnesses to report directly to the police. This includes the production of a checklist for information that should be included in a third party reporting form.
- The commitment to ensure that all forces will record antisemitic crimes by April 1, 2009.
While most efforts to improve data collection focus on law enforcement and criminal justice bodies, efforts have also been made to enhance the reporting of other state bodies. In the United States, efforts have long been undertaken to produce hate crime data in educational institutions, and those requirements have recently been upgraded to make the resulting data correspond more closely to data produced by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The Higher Education Act of 1965 requires colleges and universities to report campus incidents, including violent, bias-motivated crimes, to the Office of Postsecondary Education (OPE). Reporting requirements have until recently been less rigorous than those of the FBI and have resulted in inconsistencies between FBI and OPE hate crime statistics. With the passage of a new bill on July 31, 2008, amending the Higher Education Act of 1965, the U.S. Congress has mandated that thehate crime data reported by campus security personnel must be uniform to that reported by state and local authorities to the FBI.
A few countries have introduced improvements or refinements in their public reporting of hate crimes over the past year. Most significantly, Canada released national statistics for the first time in 2008. In Denmark, hate crime statistics reported by the security police include a range of new categories. In Austria, public hate crime statistics for 2007 have been expanded to include disaggregated statistics on hate crime against Muslims.
In Canada, on June 9, 2008, the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics released the first report on national hate crime data; the report covered 87 percent of the population. Data from the Hate Crime Supplemental Survey and the Uniform Crime Reporting Survey—which contributed to the report—indicate that 892 hate crimes occurred in 2006. This number includes violent crimes, property crimes, as well as offenses such as disturbing the peace, threatening phone calls, and weapon violations. The data are disaggregated into race/ethnicity, religion, and sexual orientation biases, including sub-groups of these categories. The Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics anticipates publishing hate crime statistics on an annual basis with 2007 hate crime statistics to be published in early 2009.
In Denmark, PET, the Danish Security Service, released a report which provided data for 2007 and a new and more detailed analysis of hate crimes reported by the organization in 2005 and 2006. PET now provides a breakdown of data that distinguishes crimes that are directed (among other categories):
- toward people of other ethnic backgrounds than Danish;
- toward ethnic Danish;
- between people of different ethnic backgrounds than Danish;
- between ethnic Danish.
The largest proportion of hate crimes (29 of the 35 hate crimes in 2007) are motivated by xenophobia and directed against people of another ethnic background. In fact, xenophobic bias has accounted for the majority of such crimes registered over the last three years: 65 (74.7 percent) in 2005; 200 (88.1 percent) in 2006; 29 (82.9 percent) in 2007. Hate crime data is further disaggregated into the following crime categories: murder, arson, violence/physical attacks, threats, propaganda, vandalism, and written or personal harassment.
In 2007, there were 35 hate crime cases recorded, of which 5 were violent hate crimes. This represents a decrease in violent hate crimes in comparison to the 13 violent hate crimes reported in 2006. According to PET, the low number of cases recorded in 2007 is a result of a serious decline in reporting of hate crime incidents, and does not necessarily reflect an actual decline in this type of crime. Going forward, PET plans to gain more access to police reports in order to better collect, adjust, and analyze the relevant information directly in the police electronic case processing system. This will allow the organization to gain a fuller, more accurate picture of the developments in this field.
In Austria, police in 2007 introduced the category of violence against Muslims, extracting the data from the general category of xenophobic/racist violence. Two such cases were registered in 2007