This project has explored the work that needs to be done across systems, processes and stakeholders to piece together the complex picture of hate crime’s prevalence and impact, and to take action. The work of community organisations can take many forms from awareness raising and campaigning to working closely with the police on supporting individual victims and sharing information. All of these approaches play their part in understanding and addressing the problem of hate crime.
CSOs and public authorities have different, sometimes competing, views about what should be prioritised when aiming to increase reporting and improve recording. The focus of this research, and interviews with change agents in particular was to get underneath these perspectives and identify what supports or undermines the cooperation that is necessary for an integrated approach. While the research was unable to do justice to the many local and regional examples of positive cooperation, a review of national practices identified a set of concepts, practices and mechanisms that help move relationships, in the words of one interviewee, ‘from the occasional to the institutional’. It is hoped that the concepts and practices below can guide future research and build a repository of practice and evidence that will inspire others.
As described in the analysis of international norms and standards, while there is a strong focus on the actions that should be taken to build a strong ‘system’ of ‘official’ data on hate crime, there is less consideration of:
This section focuses on the factors that can support – and undermine – cooperation across public authorities and CSOs, and moves on to consider the particular questions that CSOs need to consider when taking the strategic decision to seek to increase reporting and improve recording as the equal partners of public authorities.
Effective connection and relationships can take many years to develop. For example, Galop, the British LGBT+ anti-violence CSO, began as an organisation defending gay and bisexual people against improper conduct by the police. Thirty years later the organisation is a key police partner with an information-sharing agreement on hate crime data. Current progress across many countries can best be described as ‘one step forward and two steps back’ and is greatly shaped by the current political and social context. At the practical level, constructive relationships are often sparked by relatively small acts that require limited commitment on the part of public authorities, but that can generate short term positive outcomes and sometimes lead to longer term commitments.
For example, in one country, the decision of a senior police officer to travel to a CSO’s premises for a meeting as opposed to requiring them to come to police headquarters sent a message of respect and interest in the work of the organisation. In Spain, CSOs and a government ministry cooperating as partners on EU-funded projects was cited as another positive example. Examples of cooperation on police training were found in every country involved in Facing all the Facts, with positive benefits. As one interviewee pointed out, after making a personal connection during a training organised by the CSO, they experienced a positive police response when accompanying a victim to the police station to make a complaint because,
…you have seen a person in a training before and [then you] meet them in the corridors of the police, station … you have had two days with them, had lunch with them, etc.
From the police perspective an interviewee explained that after involving CSOs in the delivery of hate crime training to police recruits,
We immediately noticed that the quality of our efforts increased very much… over 85% [of participants] wrote that the quality of the seminar was at least 4 out of 5 or 5 out of 5. It was very good because it was the very first time [we involved CSOs in police training]
Training delivered by LGBT police staff networks in partnership with CSOs within the police as well as joint training between CSOs supporting migrant communities and the police were also positively received.
The commitment to set up specialist hate crime roles within the police presents an institutional ‘node’ of connection for CSOs working in the area of hate crime support and monitoring. As pointed out by one interviewee,
The establishment of the special [police] unit against racist violence played a special role. It was easy for us to contact this unit and establish a connection, otherwise, we [wouldn’t] know where the case will be brought.
And another interviewee commented:
the fact that there is a person coordinating [police] hate crime work helps a lot. I mean if we didn’t have a person clearly responsible for this, it would not work. The letter would get lost, you would have to rebuild the trust every time you approach them, so I think even though I have very strong criticisms about how [it] currently works, for many many reasons…the fact that at least there is something in place and at least there is a responsible [person] at the… central level as well as at every county level, that creates a clear responsibility. You have someone to turn to if you want something achieved.
Cooperating on training and on specific cases is more likely to take place at the earlier stages of relationship-building between public authorities and CSOs. These actions can support the process of developing a ‘common language’ on what ‘hate crime’ is and create opportunities to understand each other’s perspectives, experience and priorities. Sustaining this process can be delicate and difficult but it is arguably essential in order to start to secure the ‘practice’ of cooperation. It is also important to note that these approaches are supported and suggested at the international level such as by the High Level Group on Racism and Xenophobia and other forms of intolerance, FRA and OSCE-ODIHR. It is recommended that cooperation with CSOs on training and hate crime cases is mainstreamed into IGO capacity-building such as TAHCLE, PAHCT and other programmes; that Facing all the Facts online learning resources spanning the diverse manifestations of hate crime are adopted and that CSOs’ contribution to hate crime training is fairly compensated and made systematic.
Relationships can also be sparked as a result of high profile and sensitive cases, where the police find that they must seek advice on how to best reassure communities and gain support for their investigation. One interviewee gave the example of the bombing of a gay pub in London, the Admiral Duncan on 30 April 1999, which killed 3 people and injured many more as a ‘massive wake-up call’ for the police, who realised that their connections with the LGBT community were very limited. This led to structured engagement through community meetings during which ‘honest’ conversation could be had about the issues.
CSOs that record hate incidents and support victims are frontline witnesses to police and criminal justice responses to hate crime. They regularly witness problems in police and prosecution performance in individual cases and get to learn which public officials are really committed to understanding and addressing hate crime, which are disinterested and which are actually hostile to the agenda. The impact of frequent changes in personnel can mean that precious time needs to be invested in re-starting relationships, with little control over their duration and quality. To maintain credibility with their own communities and thus increase the chance that victims will have access to justice and protection, CSOs must point out problems and hold authorities accountable. Yet, they need to balance this responsibility with the knowledge that a frequently critical response can be alienating, causing public authorities to ‘shut down’.
Several interviewees described a ‘critical friend’ approach to help navigate these challenges, approaching the relationship as an opportunity to ‘advise about things [the police] haven’t thought about…about ways of investigating, about ways of talking to communities’. The interviewee went on to explain,
[you can] convince by being an ally, a good critical friend. A friend who has criticisms but puts them forward…someone they can trust, who is a source of assistance, and will go the extra mile to help if things aren’t going well, rather than saying “you’re rubbish”, saying, “here’s how we can help”
Another interviewee agreed,
When there are problems, we don’t want to just complain about the problems, we want to offer solutions. We very much believe that community based NGOs can offer solutions to the police and make it easier to achieve what they want to achieve, which is to solve crime.
Another interviewee commented,
…I can see that there are very clearly roles that NGOs can play: the critical role and the supportive role. And it’s not always easy to combine those, because if you are very critical then it is a very normal, natural reaction to close off and then make it ‘you and us’ … but if you create a supportive role then they see you as someone helping their work.
A public authority representative listed specific and practical ways that a CSO network worked with the police to identify problems and improve responses, commenting, ‘they call our attention to their concerns, how – from the point of view of the victim – we could have been more successful. This is all very constructive, with the aim to help.” Pointing to an example of how a CSO managed to use their networks and help the police locate a witness who lived overseas, an interviewee pointed out, ‘We are able to do things that they are not able to do’.
An interviewee from a British organisation with a very positive relationship with the police, pointed to what it takes to build and sustain this trust and legitimacy as a representative of the community when engaging with the authorities,
The point is that if you can show the police that you are a serious professional outfit and you are not out for quick sensational headlines, you’re just there to do the day to day work, monitoring the numbers, supporting the victims, supporting the investigation – it is not glamourous but it needs to be done – then you win their trust.
From the CSO perspective, establishing a track record of delivery, independence and trust across a community while adopting a constructively critical approach with the authorities emerged as core, and linked, elements for success. As one interviewee pointed out, ‘engaging with these authorities is as important as supporting victims of hate crime’.
CSOs have to balance their role of holding the police accountable with sustained, open dialogue. As explained by one interviewee,
It is a difficult relationship. It is meant to be difficult, it isn’t meant to be easy. [I think you] make the most out of it when you try to show from the very beginning that, “I am not here to make your life more difficult, I am here to make our lives easier”…. But [we] are keeping [the police] in the spotlight as perpetrators but at the same time we are also trying to cooperate with them.
CSOs often navigate contexts where they need to cooperate in one area of work while being very critical in another. One public authority interviewee gave the example of where a CSO was publicly critical of the police about how an incident in a different policing area was handled, yet still able to cooperate on hate crime training. Stressing the importance of individual relationships, she commented, ‘where there’s a will there’s a way’.
Reflecting on what supports effective cooperation across public authorities and CSOs, one interviewee explained,
what probably helps the cooperation is when we both, when the public administration and the civil society, feel that we are partners in the same story and we have to cooperate, no? And we have good relations with some of these NGOs. …When we are very much in our administration position and the NGOs are very much in their claiming position, I think we need to build a trusting environment to work. I think that we should be aware that we need to build this trusting environment on both sides.
CSOs have to both secure the trust of all elements of the community as well as to build constructive relationships with public authorities. There is an inherent tension to this approach that can be exacerbated by different challenges across affected groups. For example, in communities where a lack of trust in public authorities persists, those organisations that explicitly seek to sustain positive relationships with the authorities can face mistrust within their own communities
One interviewee from a CSO working on anti-Muslim hate crime explained, ‘there can be a false perception within Muslim communities that, because we work with police and government, we are a government agency.’ The interviewee went on to explain, ‘we are dictated on a case by case based on what the victim wants and we work with them to achieve the best outcome for their case. For us to be able to change policy, for us to be able to hold governmental officials and police forces accountable…we need to work with them.’ 245
There are also shifting factors that are outside the control of those at the frontline of these efforts from the public authority and CSO perspective. As explained by one interviewee,
So there are limits to cooperation with the public bodies and we see that very often…on the professional level you can have quite good cooperation but as soon as it gets higher up and gets somewhat political then they close the doors and they are like, we don’t want to get involved with NGOs…Then you lose that status of being an expert on a topic and you are perceived as being a political actor for some reason.
The risk identified above can be particularly high in contexts where minority rights, around migration for example, have been politicised and efforts to understand and address hate crime are met with scepticism and even hostility by some in the public eye.
Interviewees from the public authority perspective stressed the importance of recognising that public institutions can be naturally conservative places where change can be slow. One interviewee described his approach in moving the hate crime agenda forward as ‘stretching boundaries…..carefully’. This careful and conservative approach can be frustrating to engage with for CSOs that tend to operate in a more flexible and victim focused culture.
Relationships can change over time and not always progress in a positive direction. For example, in one case, the positive progress built up over several years in a challenging environment has stalled and there are risks that it will end. One interviewee highlighted the inherent power imbalance in CSO-public authority relationships, ‘if a public authority doesn’t want to engage, then it doesn’t matter what you do’.
It is clear that whether the daily practice of critical friendships thrives, survives or dies is dependent on the investment, skill and trust of those involved, and the political environment in which they operate. There is work to be done to identify the most effective ways that intergovernmental organisations and agencies can support these relationships. As a general principle it would seem important to ensure that established, positive relationships are identified, sustained and supported in policy development, funding and capacity building activities.
As identified in the introduction, cooperation and partnership working on hate crime takes place in what many have called a ‘shrinking space for civil society’. In the context of this report, restrictions on receiving foreign funding and diminishing funding sources in general alongside a hostile environment for CSOs working on hate crime, including the intimidation and harassment of individual human rights defenders are most relevant.
The EU and its institutions have focused on these issues. In its 2015-2019 Action Plan on Human rights and Democracy, the EU acknowledged the ‘shrinking of civil society space worldwide’ and pledged to deepen its cooperation with and support of civil society, and stated that it was ‘profoundly concerned at attempts in some countries to restrict the independence of civil society’. It also committed to supporting ‘structured exchanges’ between CSOs and public authorities and ‘address threats to NGOs’ space’
FRA’s recent report pointed to the essential role of civil society in human rights protection and highlighted the challenges facing civil society organisations, including lack of funding and hate crimes against human rights defenders. Of particular importance are Opinions 5 and 6 of the report, where FRA Recommends that the European Commission should further improve the availability of information regarding existing funding schemes, simplify the application and monitoring process and consider multi-annual and core funding of CSOs.
Adopting a perception-based approach to hate crime recording is the most significant technical step that can be taken by the police and other agencies to open up and facilitate meaningful cooperation with CSOs in this area.  Its full implementation can allow CSO data to automatically be considered by police and even included in police figures. This has potentially far-reaching benefits from building relationship to – most importantly – keeping victims and communities safe.
Taking this step also creates a potentially powerful mechanism for connection and cooperation across all key bodies that have hate crime recording responsibilities, allowing the smoother transfer of data from the investigation to prosecution stages.
As explained by Dave Rich, head of policy at the Community Security Trust, which spearheaded national and binding information-sharing agreements with the police in England and Wales,
‘the important thing about the [perception based] definition for the police is that a lot people thought that they were reporting a hate crime but the police weren’t taking them seriously and that is what the Macpherson definition changed. It forced the police to change that mindset. And now we are in the place that if you say that if you are a victim of racist or antisemitic crime you are more likely to be believed…it adds to that pressure on the police to take victims seriously and victim organisations seriously and to work with NGOs and to trust NGOs…you can have disagreement based on the evidence but
….the mindset orientates the police more towards communities to engage with them.’
ECRI’s General Policy Recommendation No. 11 recommends that the police define and record racist incident as “any incident which is perceived to be racist by the victim or any other person”.
The rationale for this approach is:
As FRA explains, ‘This approach allows the police to implement their legal duty under ECtHR case law to ‘unmask bias motivation’.”
Taking this approach allows police to access community perceptions of the risk and reality of targeted violence, get an opportunity to identify potential bias motivation as early as possible, transparently pass this information on to the prosecution stage and provide for a point of connection with CSOs that are also monitoring hate crimes.
It is important to note the following points:
Race, Religion, Sexual Orientation, Disability and Transgender identity
There can be strong resistance to fully adopting the perception-based definition of hate crime at the national level.
In these cases, other avenues of capturing these incidents should be explored. For example, police could consider creating a ‘potential hate crime category’, which is below the threshold of a confirmed crime according to national crime recording standards, but still captures the necessary information and achieves the goals set out above.
A second approach is to require the recording of victim or witness perception as a specific bias indicator and ensure that this information can be disaggregated in data analysis. According to FRA’s 2018 report examining police hate crime recording and data collection systems, nine countries include victim perception as a bias indicator in their recording systems. This can be a starting point for capturing victim and community perception, and anonymous reports – data can be gathered separately, reviewed and shared with communities to open conversations about their perception of the prevalence and impact of the problem of hate crime.
It is recommended that research should explore:
Learning from this work could feed into a review of GPR 11, and the production of guidance on how member states can implement the recommendation within the confines of their legal and practical context.
There can be a paradox at the heart of some of the ‘rhetoric’ on hate crime reporting and recording. While it is commonly acknowledged that victims often feel more comfortable reporting to a third party as opposed to the police, CSO data, or ‘third party reporting’ is often not accepted as valid or admissible by law enforcement, or taken account of in policing practice, strategies and planning. It would seem reasonable to argue that if it is agreed that victims are more comfortable going to third party reporting, then there is a duty on public authorities to find a way to take account of their data.
As public authorities get closer to considering specific engagement with CSOs on data and information-sharing, several key ‘rules of engagement’ were identified from their perspective.
When data and information are being shared, public authorities need to be certain that they are engaging with organisations that can guarantee the security of victim data. As one official pointed out, ‘We’d want the data systems to be secure from attack…that trustworthiness is really key.’
For many public authorities, CSOs seeking more formal cooperation would need to demonstrate that they consistently challenge all forms of hate and prejudice, and have a track record of providing support to all victims within and across communities without discrimination. As one public authority representative explained,
‘You have to do some horizon scanning and look at who is credible. …We look for groups that are happy to work with other groups and not in isolation. Some people are good at talking about the rights that they should have for themselves but not affording other groups those same rights. You have to have similar ideals and look out for groups that have a track record, can demonstrate that they can support victims. You have to start building that trust on data sharing, put things in place, data protection agreements, confidentiality agreements…so …that you feel that you have control over the information that they may or may not share. You need to be clear about where the red lines are. For example, telling NGOs, you may talk about this case in theory but not share any details, or you can share these messages, but we don’t want you to share x,y,z. Trust takes a while to build. That is why …we really value those relationships.’
CSOs also have their own rules of engagement, including the need to disengage when a critical friendship ‘ends’, always keeping in mind the priority of keeping the confidence of the people they are supporting, as well as the trust of the broader community.
The above analysis illustrates the centrality of CSOs in the process of evidencing the national picture of hate crime’s prevalence and impact and the effectiveness of responses to it. Creating opportunities to connect through collaboration on training and specific cases, nurturing critical friendships and implementing perception based recording can build the sinews of connection that make up national hate crime reporting and recording ‘systems’.
Current standards and guidelines, capacity building and funding frameworks should be revised and re-assessed through this lens. For example, ECRI country reports should have a more technical focus, based on clear criteria on the implementation of GPR No 11 at the national level. ODIHR could consider including information on whether a particular country takes the perception-based recording approach in its annual hate crime reporting. FRA could build on its 2018 report to further guide states on how to adopt this approach at the national level. EC funding programmes should aim to support both these technical developments as well as fledgling and established relationships across institutional ‘divides’.
This research has built on other work to establish that CSOs can be an essential and equal component of the ‘system’ that records information about hate crime and supports victims to navigate the criminal justice process. However, CSOs are struggling with limited resources and are risking precious relationships in competition for funds. There were few examples of strategic, national level and sustained cooperation on hate crime recording and data collection both across CSOs and between CSOs and public authorities.
Although CSOs can be presented in international and national reports and statements as having a ‘central role’ in supporting victims and encouraging reporting, the reality is that the data that they produce is often considered peripheral to the official ‘picture’ and ‘story’ of hate crime at the national level. This position is partly caused by a lack of coordination and strategic focus on the part of CSOs. High quality recording, monitoring and support takes skill, knowledge and resources that only a small number of CSOs possess. Our findings suggest the following common elements of effective approaches:
We now turn to examine the elements that support CSOs seeking a central position in hate crime recording and data collection systems for the benefit of victims.
CSOs that have the most productive cooperation with public authorities are likely to have a robust, transparent methodology for hate crime recording, and to publish their data in regular reports. This provides a platform for connection and an agenda for cooperation. For example, one interviewee explained the importance of their work to evidence the problem of hate crime against LGBT people,
‘We had a victims’ survey 2 years before with the LGBT community, so I could say X percent of gay people were victims of homophobic crimes, 25% of trans people were victims. So …Then the ministry people started nodding and I think that was successful in convincing them that it was something to look into. I could sense the shift in their mentality when they heard this data so I think it really matters if you have that kind of data, especially in this legislative context… I was very clear about our methodology and that I don’t have data on official statistics, so I didn’t try to pretend that it was everything, so I think that they recognised, okay if I am honest about what I have I am honest about my results as well so I think that was useful as well. Don’t pretend that you have something you don’t have. And then they recognise that what you have you really have.’
Another interviewee pointed to the fact that data can be influential when the climate for the discussion changes and is ‘more open’. She argued that when the climate was more open at the national level,
‘then [we] provided this valid and serious dressing of the data. Because you have on the one hand parts of the state that don’t want to hear – some want to hear, some don’t want to hear – and then you also have groups of people who are in solidarity. When the state say, okay I have had enough of your nagging, show me your data, then you provide data that nobody can say okay this is an exaggeration, okay this never happened…You present data in a way that they cannot ignore it. You don’t want to substitute what is happening in grassroots. You want to make the link between the grassroots and the state. If you want civic and institutional change, then at some point these two ‘poles’ have to talk to each other.’
Several organisations are only able to provide an online reporting portal, without offering support. While it is essential to get these incidents ‘on the map’, as explained in the previous section there needs to be a strategic focus on reporting into support. There is a clear risk that, as with official routes, victims will not see the point of reporting to CSOs if nothing happens as a result.
On the other side of the coin, some organisations are prioritising their support over their monitoring work. Reviewing data, preparing reports, and building policy positions based on data takes time, expertise and energy. CSOs have to make difficult choices about where to use their resources and rightly choose to prioritise their direct support services. However, failing to review, analyse and raise awareness about their data can limit their own ability to improve, raise their profile, seek funding and to influence public authorities to raise their game.
As set out above, the critical friend relationship between NGOs and public authorities is central to securing and nurturing cooperation on hate crime recording and data collection. However, committing to constructive cooperation in this way can have strategic implications for an NGO’s mission. As explained by one interviewee,
‘There is a critical friend versus activist split, an insider-outsider division. I don’t think that you can be on the inside talking to ministers and then the next day outside waving placards – there are some people who try to do both but it doesn’t really work, I think you have to choose one path.’
Another interviewee commented,
‘…and maybe the model should simply be that [there] are two types of NGOs. Some NGOs are more critical and doing more media work, etc. and some NGOs are saying look, you got all this criticism, now let us help you in doing you work so that you don’t get this criticism in the end.’
This is not to say that strong criticism should be avoided. If it is, credibility with the community will be damaged. Indeed, several interviewees from NGOs emphasised the ‘critical’ aspect of the friendship, with one interviewee describing their relationship as a ‘super-critical friendship’. However, once a CSO has decided to engage in reporting and recording work, seeking collaborative relationships with public authorities is essential. As highlighted in the section above, this means working to find solutions with the police, for victims, including on specific cases and in training. With this as a starting point, CSOs might need to work with their governance structures to adjust their mission and strategy accordingly.
In seeking collaborative problem-solving relationships with public authorities, questions about collaboration with other CSOs arise. For those CSOs engaged in monitoring and recording, working in coalition with other organisations was seen as important, however, there are considerations to keep in mind.
Common elements of a successful approach:
 Interviewee 19.
 Interviewee 18.
 Interviewee 7.
 Interviewee 17.
 Interviewee 4.
 Interviewee 7.
 EU High Level Group on combating racism, xenophobia and other forms of intolerance (2017, February).
 European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) (2018b, January).
 OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE/ODIHR) (2014a, 29 September).
 UK Interviewee 3. The perpetrator, David Copeland also targeted a supermarket in Brixton, a historic Afro-Caribbean neighbourhood and Brick Lane, a historic Bangladeshi neighbourhood. See country report for England and Wales.
 Interviewee 29.
 Interviewee 30.
 Interviewee 7.
 Interviewee 9.
 Interviewee 7.
 UK interviewee 5
 interviewee 31.
 Interviewee 1.
 Interviewee 16.
 Interviewee 21.
 Interviewee 31
 Interviewee 7.
 Interviewee 17.
 Interviewee 30.
 Council of the European Union (2015) p. 5.
 Council of the European Union (2015) p. 12.
 Council of the European Union (2015) p.19.
 European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) (2018a, January) p. 5 and p. 10.
 See ECRI box on General Policy Recommendation Number 11.
 § ECRI Policy recommendation 11 is the same at the Macpherson definition. See box for a detailed explanation.
 the story of how these information-sharing agreements were set up in England and Wales is explained in forthcoming Online Learning for Decision Makers, which will be available on www.facingfactsonline.eu
 See True Vision (2019).
 This is the case in Ireland and Italy.
 See OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE/ODIHR) (2014a, 29 September).
 This includes Hungary, Ireland, Spain and the UK. See European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) (2018b, January).
 Interviewee 28.
 Interviewee 32.
 Interviewee 7.
 Interviewee 1.
 Interviewee 30.
 Interviewee 7.
 Interview 31.
 interviewees 1 and 30.