Last Monday I had the opportunity to attend to an event on “Hate Crime: Cause & Effect”, organized by the Equality and Diversity Forum & the University of Sussex, School of Law, Politics & Sociology. The event was very interesting and very timely, especially given the peaks of hate crime following the two recent attacks in London.
In the past years there has been a huge proliferation of hate crime, with the Crime Survey for England and Wales estimating that there were over 220,000 hate crimes in 2016, amounting to nearly 3% of all crimes. The event successfully reflected on such concerning landscape, discussing and presenting cutting-edge research findings in this area.
It particularly focused on two areas, the relation between online and offline hate crimes and the impacts on victims and communities. Research by Dr Susann Wiedlitzka interestingly identified that online hate crime tends to follow rather than lead hate crimes committed in real life. It also found that there have been huge peaks in anti-Islamic tweets with hateful language following terror attacks and those tweets were predominantly coming from London, in particular North London. While research on the community effects of hate crime, undertaken by Dr Jenny Paterson, revealed that the impacts on the community are comparable to those of being a victim of hate crime since simply knowing a victim of hate crime can make you feel vulnerable and experience similar effects as those of actual victims.
The event also provided a space for professionals working in the area to discuss and reflect how, collectively, we can better address both causes and consequences of hate crime. It proved to be a very important platform for debate of such a pressing issue of our times!