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Justice Minister and NIACRO launch Challenge Hate Crime Project Research Papers

Justice Minister David Ford MLA today launched a series of research papers compiled following a unique pilot programme set up to specifically examine and address how hate crime and sectarianism is dealt with in Northern Ireland
Thursday, 25 April 2013

In January this year I brought forward an action plan, setting out the further work that we in the Department of Justice, and the other criminal justice agencies, must progress if we are to rise to the significant challenges that hate crime presents us with. This was agreed by the Justice Committee and work is now underway to deliver the actions in it. Those agencies within the remit of my department will not be found wanting when it comes to responding to these issues

Minister of Justice David Ford MLA,Northern Ireland Department of Justice

The research papers and accompanying DVD’s outline the extent of the problems with regards to hate crime in Northern Ireland and the need for a more effective response and joined up approach across the criminal justice system.

The project is a partnership between the NI Prison Service and NIACRO and was funded under the European Union’s PEACE III Programme.

It is hoped that this research, which was undertaken over a three year period, will help inform the delivery of a model which will result in a reduction in the levels of hate crime incidents and consequently the numbers of victims of hate crime.  Each agency is already working on a range of practical changes to ensure hate crime offences are dealt with effectively.

Speaking at the launch in The Skainos Centre in Belfast Minister Ford said:

“We all understand the waves of hurt and harm that reverberate each and every time someone is a victim of an incident based on their perceived religion, race, sexuality, disability or nationality.

“It can have terrible consequences, particularly for the victim, but also for the perpetrator and it can have a detrimental and lasting effect on entire communities.

“What this research has done is offer solutions by recommending a series of changes to policies and procedures, and a model of intervention to address the behaviours of those convicted of these heinous offences.

“In January this year I brought forward an action plan, setting out the further work that we in the Department of Justice, and the other criminal justice agencies, must progress if we are to rise to the significant challenges that hate crime presents us with.  This was agreed by the Justice Committee and work is now underway to deliver the actions in it.  Those agencies within the remit of my department will not be found wanting when it comes to responding to these issues.

“Underpinning this will be a need to ensure we have an accurate picture of how hate crime offences are dealt with through the continuum of the Criminal Justice system, from arrest and prosecution to outcomes in court.”  

Speaking of the project, Max Murray, Chair of the CHC Project Steering Group said:  “As the lead agency for this project, we look forward to the development of a model that both reduces re-offending and begins to deal with the endemic issues resulting from hate crime, including sectarianism and racism.

“Recently approved funding by the Department will ensure that we get a vital flow of information to enable us to take proactive, collaborative action, with a firm focus on reducing offending and re-offending, and on building a shared future for all.“

Olwen Lyner, CEO of NIACRO said: “We welcome the range of commitments that have been made to date in developing responses to tackle hate crime. However, given today’s launch, we now look forward to further inclusive discussions with all interested groups to ensure that we can, together, deliver not only better outcomes for those affected by hate crimes, but ultimately contribute to a reduction in such incidences in the future. Such a partnership approach, harnessing the strengths of a range of organisations, will provide a more effective means of making all of our communities safer.”

Notes to editors

1.    The event to launch the project research papers and accompanying DVD was held today at the Skainos Centre, 239 Newtownards Road, Belfast.

2.    The research materials include the following:

  • Criminal Justice Responses to Hate Crime in Northern Ireland
  • Defining Sectarianism and Sectarian Hate Crime
  • Political Parties and Hate Crime : A Review Paper
  • Challenge to Change : Group Facilitation Manual
  • Challenge to Change : Facilitator Team Preparation and Training Manual
  • Challenge to Change : Evaluation Report
  • Hate Crime - Taking Stock : Programmes for Offenders of Hate
  • Hate Crime and Radicalisation : The German Political Experience and the Schellenberg Report
  • Anti Hate Crime and Deradicalisation Interventions : Results of Recent Good Practice Studies
  • Frequent Issues and Challenges in Anti Hate Crime Work : ‘How-to’ Outline
  • Key Facts in Hate Motivated Incidents and Crimes
  • Challenge Hate Crime - Deal With It : Conference Report
  • The Challenge Hate Crime Project (Disc 01)
  • Training Materials (Disc 02)

3.    The departmental action plan is addressing a range of hate crime issues including;

  • tackling under-reporting;
  • improveing detection rates and prosecutions;
  • to do more work with Minority groups, and particularly victims, to encourage them to come forward and report crimes against them;
  • to improve support for the victims of hate crime; and
  • more action to challenge attitudes and raising awareness

4    NIACRO is a voluntary organisation which has been working for almost 40 years to reduce crime and its impact on people and communities.

5    The Challenge Hate Crime Project is a three year pilot programme and will seek to examine and address hate crime.  These include sectarianism, racism, homophobia, faith/religion, disability and transphobia.

6.    Media enquiries to the NI Prison Service Press Office Tel: 028 9052 5354. Out of office hours please contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 07699715440 and your call will be returned.