‘UK hate crime laws have been pieced together in an incremental manner, meaning they have quickly become outdated and are in need of reform to make them coherent and effective.’
This is according to a September 2018 Come Forward report (pdf) on access to justice in cases of LGBT hate crime.
The report includes individual reporting on ten European countries (including the UK), and compares the processes and structures in place in each one. In the UK, it finds that:
- The UK record much more hate crime than any other European country – however, research indicates that this is primarily due to better reporting an recording, rather than a higher incidence of crimes.
- Key features of the UK model include ‘perception-based recording’, and work with relevant NGOs to improve LGBT communities’ confidence in the police.
- Despite this, there are still high levels of homophobic, biphobic and transphobic hate crime in the UK. The majority of this remains unreported.
- Hate crime laws in the country are well developed but in need of reform. This would ensure coherency and fairness for LGBT victims of hate crime.
- Comprehensive measures are available to victims, as a result of the Victims’ Directive, though in practice these are not always offered. Framing these measures as entitlements, rather than rights, is making them more difficult to enforce.
- Victim support services vary in approach, quality and expertise. There is a need for training and sharing of good practice to improve this.
- Criminal justice institutions have made progress on inclusion, but can still be alienating environments for LGBT victims of hate crime. There’s a need to improve policing and prosecution professionals’ understanding of LGBT identities, the impacts of hate crime, the importance of respectful and empathetic treatment, and of referral to appropriate victim support services.