Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Wales to survey citizens about hate crimes based on race, religion, disability, gender, or sexual orientation.

From The South Wales Echo in the UK:

An attempt to uncover the true extent of hate crime in South Wales is being made, with the launch of a new survey.

Experts fear the number of attacks they know about is just the tip of the iceberg, with up to 90% of offences not reported to police.

The survey, launched by the Cardiff and the Vale Equality and Human Rights Network, will investigate racial and religiously motivated crimes as well as those motivated by hostility against disability, gender and sexual orientation.

Disability rights campaigner Simon Green, confined to a wheelchair after suffering a series of benign tumours on his legs, said: “I might be on a night out in town, sitting in a cafe with my mother, or shopping in the supermarket, and someone will walk up to me and make a vile, derogatory comment about my disability.

“People have called me a cripple, have said they will wring my neck and have tried to tip me out of my wheelchair.”

The 35-year-old, from Bryntirion, Bridgend, said: “People will excuse it as friendly banter, but it’s a crime.

“The work that is being done to highlight this issue is massively important because there are people out there who don’t realise they can report these attacks.”

The survey is part of the three-year Big Lottery funded All Wales Hate Crime Research Project, led by Cardiff-based Race Equality First in partnership with Cardiff University.

Race Equality First’s Mair Rigby said: “I am of the opinion that hate crime is significantly under-reported in Wales.

“As we don’t know the actual amount of hate crime, it’s difficult to give a degree or percentage. But most surveys show that across strands between 50% to 90% of victims state not reporting hate crime to the police. The police estimate that about 90% of homophobic hate crime goes unreported, for example.

“We need more research to give us a better idea of the true levels of under-reporting.”