Hate Crime

Women and Equalities – in the House of Commons at 10:30 am on 10th November 2011.

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Photo of Angela Smith Angela Smith Member, Administration Committee, Shadow Deputy Leader of the House of Commons 10:30 am, 10th November 2011

What steps she is taking to tackle hate crime.

Photo of Lynne Featherstone Lynne Featherstone The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

Tackling hate crime is an issue that the Government take extremely seriously, and we are committed to doing more to support and protect victims. We are meeting the coalition commitment to improve the recording of such crimes, and working with the police and other partners to encourage more victims to come forward. We are also working with the Government’s independent advisory group to develop an action plan on tackling all forms of hate crime.

Photo of Angela Smith Angela Smith Member, Administration Committee, Shadow Deputy Leader of the House of Commons

Next week is anti-bullying week. What is the Minister going to do to tackle homophobic bullying in schools?

Photo of Lynne Featherstone Lynne Featherstone The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

We take all bulling very seriously, including homophobic and transgender bullying. The Department of Health has issued new guidelines on bullying that are much more condensed and to the point. Also, Ofsted has now included behaviours in its inspection regime. The hon. Lady is right: this is an appalling form of hate crime, and we are dealing with it.

Photo of Stuart Andrew Stuart Andrew Member, Welsh Affairs Committee

One in five gay or lesbian people has experienced a homophobic attack in the past three years. As someone who experienced such an attack in the ’90s, I am aware of the fear that follows such an attack. Will the Minister join me in welcoming the excellent work being done by West Yorkshire police to engage the lesbian, bisexual, gay and transgender community in tackling this awful hate crime?

Photo of Lynne Featherstone Lynne Featherstone The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

I thank my hon. Friend for his question, and I am sorry to learn that he had such an experience. The statistics on hate crime are quite frightening. In 2010, there were 48,000 incidents. I would very much like to congratulate the police force in West Yorkshire. It is vital that the police take this issue seriously, because they are in a position to act when someone comes to them to report it. We must tackle hate crime and ensure that every incident is investigated.