Long says we must all work together to prevent hate crime

Naomi Long hate crime justice

We all have a responsibility to recognise and prevent hate crime, Alliance Justice Minister Naomi Long has said.

Launching a suite of hate crime guides for use in the workplace, the Minister said: “Hate crime in any form is unacceptable. Targeting a person because of who they are or what they believe – be it their race, religion, political belief, sexuality, gender identity or disability – is wrong, irrespective of where it takes place. My department has worked closely with the Labour Relations Agency to produce new guides to support staff who experience hate crime in their place of work and I would encourage all employers to make staff aware of them.”

Three separate guides are available, offering practical support in circumstances where a member of staff becomes a victim of hate crime or witnesses a hate crime – one each for employers, managers and employees.

The guides, developed in conjunction with the Labour Relations Agency, focus on hate incidents and hate crimes that occur in the workplace. They provide businesses of all sizes with information and resources in order to enable them to support staff who experience any form of hate crime. In addition, they will help to increase awareness of what constitutes a hate crime, how to report incidents and the support available.

Naomi Long added: “Everyone has a responsibility to understand what hate crime is and to seek to prevent it. If you see behaviour which you believe to be motivated by hate, and you want to reach out to help your colleague, these guides will advise you and help you to achieve that too. By increasing awareness of hate crime, highlighting the support available as well as helping you understand how to report it, we hope to reduce the number of victims.”

The Department of Justice sponsored an independent review of Hate Crime Legislation, led by Judge Desmond Marrinan, to consider whether the existing legislation represents the most effective approach for the justice system to deal with criminal conduct motivated by hatred.

Judge Marrinan published his Report on 01 December 2020. The Minister of Justice agrees with the overall assessment that the current system is not working as effectively for hate crime victims or offenders as it could and therefore requires legislative change. The Department of Justice is working with the necessary partners and stakeholders required to progress each of the 34 recommendations in the report, including delivery of a consolidated Hate Crime Bill in the next mandate.