Hackney is ‘no place for hate:’ Council responds to surge in hate crimes

Councillors Susan Fajana-Thomas OBE and Joseph Ogundemuren and Pic: Hackney Council

A new Hate Crime Strategy has been drawn up by Hackney Council in response to the borough’s current rise in offences against minority groups.

The strategy focuses on building community trust, providing immediate support, and educating residents. 

Hackney has the largest number of orthodox Charedi Jewish residents in Europe, and 14.1% of the community are Muslim.

The Israel-Hamas war has sparked a rise in Islamophobic and Antisemitic hate crimes in London, particularly Hackney. Eastlondonlines has reported on rising fears amongst Muslim communities here and the surge of attacks on Jewish people here.  

Paint vandalism at Vishnitz Girls School. Pic: Rabbi Levi Schapiro

Many residents also identify as LGBTQ+, and a recent report has demonstrated that East London, including Hackney, has seen the highest rate of abuse on rail networks of LGBTQ+ people. You can read ELL’s coverage here.

The multitude of recent hate crimes in the area, including verbal and physical abuse, has led to the ‘No Place for Hate’ 2023-2026 strategy, published on Monday.

The council believes: “This will go a long way to ensuring that our response to Hate Crime is integrated, community-focused and is able to make a real positive difference to people’s lives by taking a firm stance in making Hackney No Place for Hate.”

The Hackney community is comprised of a wide range of ethnicities, religions, and sexual orientations, so the strategy has four main goals to curb the number and range of hate crimes in the community. 

Hate crime champions

The council are planning on building community trust by establishing Hate Crime Champions across the borough to support and advise survivors who have been subject to hate crime incidents.

Residents interested in challenging injustices and supporting victims had the opportunity to volunteer to be Hate Crime Champions in October as part of Hate Crime Awareness Week.

The current lead Hate Crime Champion, Councillor Joseph Ogundemuren, told Eastlondonlines: “Our new strategy builds on feedback from a wide range of people to ensure it builds on our previous commitments and is as comprehensive as possible. At its heart is helping people to feel empowered to stand up to hate by changing behaviour wherever they come across it in Hackney and collectively stand united to make Hackney No Place for Hate.’’ 

The scheme has been running for three years and involves organising the Hackney Hate Crime Forum, which consists of residents that are representative of the characteristics of the community to highlight specific hate crime concerns. 

Councillor Susan Fajana-Thomas OBE, Cabinet Member for Community Safety and Regulatory Services, told ELL: “Hackney is one of the most diverse boroughs in London, making it such a wonderful place to live, work and visit.

Hackney’s ‘No Place for Hate’ Strategy Document 2023 to 2026.
Pic: Hackney Council

“We have a rich tradition of ensuring everyone, regardless of their race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability, or gender identity, can call Hackney home. 

“Our new strategy, developed with residents, survivors, and community representatives, aims to ensure we continue to celebrate our rich diversity and be a place that people can live without the fear of discrimination or hate crime.’’

Increased reporting

The council plans to work with the community to identify reporting barriers to increase the rate of hate crime reporting.

In order to achieve this goal, they want to ensure the community understands the difference between hate crimes and hate incidents.

They have emphasised that: “Any criminal offence can be a hate crime if the person who commits it intends to harm an individual, group or community, because of their actual or perceived characteristics.”

The council also plans to raise awareness about third-party reporting mechanisms and establish a social media hate crime strategy.

Along with these external mechanisms, the council will deliver hate crime awareness training to front-line staff and other partners. 

Protect people from harm by integrating a first-class response and ongoing support to survivors and communities.

The council intends to protect the community from harm by analysing data on hate crime patterns and hotspots, as well as gathering evidence against perpetrators via CCTV, Enforcement Officers, and the Safer Neighbourhood Board.

Enforcement officers such as Superintendent James Conway, the Borough Commander for the Central East area, has already met with the Senior Rabbinical authority of the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations to discuss increased policing in Stamford Hill.

Support for victims will also be improved by keeping them informed on the progress of their case, and the council will hold perpetrators to account, providing a consistent response to perpetrators of hate crimes within council-owned housing and housing association properties.

The council will also work with local businesses and organisations to establish a network of designated safe places across the borough. 

Tackling attitudes behind hate crime

In order to support the Hate Crime Champions, the council will provide them with training and support to encourage a greater cultural understanding of the area and celebrate diversity in the borough.  

Hackney Council will signpost appropriate support. Pic: Hackney Council

They will also work with the police to target online hate crimes and provide information leaflets and wallet cards to signpost appropriate support.

They’re final effort will involve introducing a quarterly Hate Crime Advice Surgery, which began in November.

The surgery is in collaboration with Tower Hamlets Council. Both council’s partnered with community organisations to cover individual strands of hate crimes and provide a confidential drop-in service for victims.

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