Hate Crime After Brexit: Linking Terrestrial and New Forms of Data to Inform Governance

Lead Research Organisation: Cardiff University
Department Name: Sch of Social Sciences


The Crown Prosecution Service defines hate crime as any criminal offence which is perceived to be motivated by hostility or prejudice based on a person's race, religion, disability, sexual orientation or transgender identity, with crimes based on xenophobia being recorded by the police as race or religious hostility. The Home Office (2017) shows there were 80,393 hate crime offences recorded in 2016/17, compared with 62,518 the year before, a 29 per cent increase. Crime Survey for England and Wales estimates, arguably a more reliable measure of hate crime victimisation due to their insensitivity to changes in police training/recording practices, show that hate crime, along with general crime, decreased between 2008 and 2015, before turning to show an increase in race and religious hate crime from 112,000 to 117,000 crimes (5 per cent) between 13/15 and 15/17. This is a significant turning point, as it reflects the first rise in hate crime recorded by the Survey in 10 years, while almost all other forms of crime continue to fall. While the increase in police recorded crime can be partially attributed to greater reporting, the Home Office report is unequivocal in detailing a genuine rise in hate crime, particularly around the EU Referendum. Research has also shown the changing nature of hate crime post-Brexit vote, with increases in the targeting of victims from mainland Europe (including non-Eastern Europeans), in new ways (e.g. 'gamification' of hate crime - 'Punish a Muslim Day', and online offences), with new consequences (e.g. leaving England and Wales for Scotland and other European countries) (Burnett 2017, Chakraborti 2017, Rzepnikowska 2018). The reported stark increase in prevalence and change in the nature of hate post-Brexit vote requires new governance models to be formulated. This response has begun, with the publication of the Home Office Hate Crime Action Plan (July 2016) that includes initiatives to increase reporting, secure places of worship, and to develop our understanding of the 'drivers of hate'. In addition, the Director of Public Prosecutions is planning for stiffer penalties for online hate abusers, and a review is underway on hate crime legislation in Scotland. These responses are clear indicators that the government recognises the changing nature of hate crime. Despite these efforts, fresh calls for government to re-examine how it deals with hate crime have been made in relation to improving reporting, victim services and community cohesion post-Brexit (Chakraborti 2017). Significant questions remain over the short- and long-term causes of this rise in hate crime, what the implications are for the governance of this problem, and the wider linked issues of segregation, community cohesion and fostering new shared principles of citizenship post-Brexit. For example, isolated data sources cannot tell us if the rise in hate crime was due to increased reporting by victims and witnesses, better recording by police, an actual increase in perpetration because of the vote and leave campaign, or a combination of multiple factors. Our underlying assumption is that better information about the patterns and drivers of Brexit-related hate crime is a precondition for better governance. This project will develop innovative methods, using linked survey, administrative, press and social media data, to address this. The design of new governance interventions requires robust analysis of all available data (not just police and survey data in isolation), linked in a way that allow longitudinal analysis by geography. Only with such data and methodological innovations can policy-makers be made aware of the most significant driving factors of Brexit-related hate crime.

Planned Impact

This project will build up a strong evidence base, using linked heterogeneous data, to inform policy development, intervention and decision making related to the governance of Brexit-related hate crime. The project will demonstrate how terrestrial and new forms of data, when ethically linked and repurposed using data science tools and methods, can have a transformative impact on how governments, criminal justice and the third sector work to address hate crime, its consequences on individuals and communities, and its underlying drivers.

We will work closely with the Policy CI, the UK Head of the Cross-Government Hate Crime Programme at the Department for Communities and Local Government, and government, criminal justice and third sector stakeholders, to co-produce an evidence base on the utility of linked data for policy and decision making. We will achieve this by:

--Involving the UK Head of the Cross-Government Hate Crime Programme as a CI on the project to ensure maximum buy-in at a policy level. He will feed project results and governance recommendations through the Programme via its Strategy Board that consists of all relevant ministers, senior criminal justice personnel, and senior civil servants;

--Involving key stakeholders working in hate crime policy and practice (policy, criminal justice and third sector), in an online Dephi Panel, where statistical model results will be shared to facilitate the exchange of ideas on new governance models;

--Running two policy-maker, criminal justice and third sector events (London and Manchester) to disseminate project findings;

--Writing an ESRC Policy Evidence Briefing for dissemination at Westminster events;

--Providing free access to a new linked data-source with associated training materials on the correlates of post-Brexit hate crime for reanalysis at the national, regional and local level;

--Providing free access to an enhanced online Ethics Guide for using Social Media and Linked Data for academic and non-academic researchers.


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