Impact case study
Improving the Criminal Justice Response to Hate Crime
Unit(s) of assessment: Law
Research theme: Safety and Security of Citizens and Society
School: Nottingham Law School
Hate crime has been historically under-reported or under-prosecuted, with the task of identifying some examples, such as disability hate crime, complicated by the fact that perpetrators may be friends, carers or acquaintances of victims who exploit these relationships for financial gain or some other criminal purpose. Against this backdrop, the CPS and police have been keen to discover more around the nature of offending and its impacts among concerned communities. In 2014, Associate Professor Loretta Trickett was commissioned by the South Nottinghamshire Community Safety Partnership to evaluate CPS Disability Hate Crime cases across the East Midlands. Her research identified significant gaps in knowledge resulting in poor responses and incorrect labelling of disability hate crime which greatly influenced the efficacy of prosecutions. This empirical evidence provided localised insights into a national picture of victim dissatisfaction with criminal justice responses particularly those concerning victims with learning disabilities.
More generally, Trickett’s research has directly influenced how the police respond to all hate crime categories on local and national levels. Specifically, the research has transformed the design, content and implementation of national and local hate crime training for policing staff. It also informed the development and adaptation of Police Risk Assessment tools in Nottingham and the East Midlands region; extending the level of protection hate crime victims.
Trickett undertook an empirical study exploring the experiences of police officers in dealing with hate crime. The report, The Policing of Hate Crime in Nottinghamshire, found that the existing ‘tick box’ design of the online training materials was not fit for purpose. It was noted that this training format was out of line with existing educational pedagogies on adult learning and also failed to account for key aspects of police culture and the existing literature on how police officers learn. Significant deficits were also found in the knowledge officers had around hate crime issues. Recommendations were provided which improved the delivery of hate crime training and also led to redesign of police risk assessment tools.
Shaping police training
As a direct result of Trickett’s research, the National College of Policing developed new training for front-line police and call-handlers on identifying, recording and responding to reports of hate crime. The new electronic training platform now includes videos of experts, victims, support providers and others who have had direct experience of hate crime and its effects. The platform was piloted in Hampshire in 2018, before a national roll-out. The College of Policing stated that the research ‘helped us to address a significant gap in our knowledge’ and ‘has been instructive in the development of our on-line learning for frontline police and call handlers on identifying, recording and initially responding to hate crime reports’. One platform designer commented that use of the videos ‘were very well received during the pilot stage of the online learning development.’ These design points were also integrated into online learning for police and other criminal justice professionals in Italy and Hungary (and subsequently other European Countries) through the ‘Facing Facts’ programme leading to hate crime practitioner accreditation.
Similarly, at local level, Trickett’s research led to Nottinghamshire police overhauling their existing model of hate crime training, replacing a restrictive ‘tick box’ approach with face-to-face workshops using quotes and videos with victims of hate crime to humanise their experiences in their ‘Citizens at the Heart’ training model. The research continues to be ‘invaluable in ensuring any training we design is appropriate and answers police officers’ needs.’
Trickett’s police research also led to the redesign of Nottinghamshire Police’s hate crime risk assessment in 2016. As a result of the research Nottinghamshire Police revised their risk assessment process, replacing the three risk categories (‘Low/Middle/High’) with a simplified ‘Low/Raised’ classification to enable a wider range of hate incidents to be captured and avoid artificial inflation of risk. The new tool was commended in the HMICFRS (2018) hate crime inspection report, citing ‘the design and balance of questions about the offence, diagnostic questions to determine risk’ and ‘the alignment of procedure with risk categories’ as exemplars of best practice in keeping victims safe.
Later that year, Trickett undertook a follow-up study to obtain feedback from officers on implementation of the 2016 model. The report concluded that officers found existing procedures to be overly cumbersome and recommendations included the need for a streamlined risk assessment focused on factual questions with gradient responses linked to levels of procedure/response, which also afforded space for officers’ discretion. Trickett’s further recommendations concerning the need for streamlined questions with gradient responses were subsequently incorporated into the latest version of the tool in June 2019. It was further suggested that this user-friendly form of risk assessment should be adopted by all police forces as a national standardised model. The research influenced change at national level, with other forces including North Yorkshire, Northamptonshire, Avon & Somerset, Surrey and Dyfed-Powys learning from the development of the tool.
Improving the legal response to misogyny
One particular limb of Trickett’s research focuses on hate crime directed against women and girls. In 2018, Trickett was commissioned by the Nottingham Women’s Centre and the Nottinghamshire Police and Crime Commissioner to undertake an evaluation of the Nottinghamshire Police Misogyny Hate Crime policy. The research found that women in Nottingham felt that they were specifically targeted for harassment and abuse on the basis of their gendered identity. The report recommended that ‘gender’ should be included as an additional legal category of hate crime, recorded as such by all police forces on a national level. Police training should also be recalibrated to reflect the intersectional nature of harassment, and to encourage empathy and sympathy with women so that they feel they are being taken seriously.
Trickett’s research triggered a national and international debate, having been ‘extensively used in developing the campaign to make misogyny a hate crime’. A number of organisations including Citizens UK and the Fawcett Society have drawn on Trickett’s research to call for gender-based hate crime to be recognised in England and Wales.
Trickett had previously acted as academic adviser on Citizens UK ‘No Place for Hate’ research survey in Nottingham, which was ‘the catalyst for Nottinghamshire Police to make the decision to begin recording and investigating incidents and crimes perceived to be motivated by misogyny as hate crime’. From April 2016, Nottinghamshire Police was the first police force to change the way they recorded and investigated reports of crime allegedly motivated by misogyny (S9, S10). An additional category of ‘gender’ was added to the list of current legal categories used to record hate crime, so that the police have a more accurate picture of the nature and extent of incidents of harassment and abuse committed against women. A total of 301 hate crimes or incidents against women were recorded up to February 2020. Previously such incidents would have been recorded under a general criminal offence (e.g. assault), or would not have been recorded at all. This new practice ‘showed that the policy had widespread support leading to behavioural and organisational changes’ having ‘a positive impact on women as victims. It was also perceived as helping to raise awareness about the need to improve convictions for related offences against women and girls including rape and domestic violence. The research directly influenced the introduction and shaping of the Voyeurism (Offences) Act 2019. Stella Creasy MP described the new reporting process as a practice which was ‘transforming the experience of women’.
The research also formed the basis of a briefing note for the Domestic Abuse Bill Committee, which advised that ‘Amendment 84’ be reworded to include misogyny. The research also informed a recent consultation by the Law Commission evaluating the effectiveness of hate crime laws throughout England and Wales, underpinning its recommendation that a new offence of incitement to hatred on the basis of ‘sex or gender’ should introduced. Evidence provided to the Law Commission on the influence of the misogyny policy in raising awareness of the need to criminalise public harassment against women, was also a significant factor in their recommendation to introduce a new law against public harassment.
- Hamilton, P. and Trickett, L., 2014. Disability hostility, harassment and violence in the UK: a motiveless and senseless crime. In: N. Hall, A. Corb, P. Giannasi and J. Grieve, eds., The Routledge International Handbook of Hate Crime.
- Trickett, L. with Hamilton, P., 2016. Hate crime training of police officers in Nottingham: a critical review. Nottingham, Nottingham Trent University.
- Trickett, L. 2018. Hate Crime Risk Assessment: Lessons from the front-line of Nottinghamshire Police. Nottingham: Nottingham Trent University.
- Mullany, L. & Trickett, L., 2018. Misogyny Hate Crime Evaluation Report. Nottingham: University of Nottingham / Nottingham Trent University.