Why are hate crimes at record levels in the UK?

With hate crimes at record levels, we need to look beyond Brexit & recent terror attacks to fully understand exactly what is going on

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ChrisAllen

Chris Allen is Associate Professor in Hate Studies at the University of Leicester. For almost two decades, he has been at the forefront of research into Islamophobic and extremist hate.

 

Levels of hate crime in the UK have been on an upward trajectory over the past few years. None more so than in 2016-17 when overall numbers increased by 29%: the largest annual increase since records began. During this same period of time, the number of racially and religiously-motivated hate crimes recorded reached record levels. As we enter National Hate Crime Awareness Week, this article offers an explanation for these previously unprecedented levels.

For the Government, recent annual increases are ‘likely’ due to improved awareness, better recording, and a greater willingness of victims to come forward. Given 2016-7’s record levels however, this explanation appears simplistic. While likely to result in a greater number of recorded crimes, there would have had to have been extremely significant improvements for that to have translated into a 29% overall increase. Improvements alone also fail to explain record levels of racially and religiously-motivated hate crimes.

As regards the latter, 2016-7 was notable given how certain events duly impacted the levels of hate crime recorded. The first of these was the Brexit referendum. While ‘Leave’ campaigners have since refuted claims that the referendum catalysed a sharp increase in the levels of hate crime in the days and weeks that followed, official data shows that in the 11 month period following the vote hate crimes surged by 23%. Interesting about this was the unprecedented targeting of white Eastern Europeans, anomalous in the British context where racially-motivated hate crime has historically targeted non-white minorities.

Also unique to 2016-7 were the number and scale of terror incidents in the UK. As the official data illustrated, following each incident – in Westminster, Manchester, London Bridge, Finsbury Park and Parsons Green – there was a sharp increase in the number of hate crimes recorded. Noting how this has been a pattern dating back to the 9/11 terror attacks, both research and third-party data from Tell MAMA (Measuring Anti-Muslim Attacks) confer legitimacy on the notion that these backlashes are undertaken on the basis of exacting ‘revenge’ against Muslims and their communities. It might be assumed that this would go some way to explaining the record levels of religiously-motivated hate crime.

While the Brexit referendum and number of terror incidents go some way to explaining the size of the increase in 2016-7, they fail to account for the year on year rises. To better understand this, it is necessary to take a broader perspective, one that considers how the socio-political landscape of the UK has changed and developed. For Poynting and Perry, this is important as socio-political landscapes can create climates which bestow ‘permission’ to hate and by consequence, enact hate crime. As they go on, this occurs when political actors and political mechanisms function to dichotomously demarcate ‘us’ from ‘them’: actively constructing ‘Others’ that are indeterminably and unequivocally oppositional, fear inducing and threatening.

This – according to Abrams and Travaglino – was evident in the discourses and rhetoric of Leave campaigners. Building on decades of various political actors routinely and repeatedly demarcating ‘immigrants’ as ‘Others’, Leave campaigners ratified the argument that had been premised many years beforehand that halting immigration – made possible by leaving the EU – would provide a ‘solution’ to the ‘problem’: nullifying the threat posed to ‘us’ by ‘them’. Allen and Young argue that the Brexit referendum achieved this by functioning as a political mechanism that conferred legitimacy on who could and who could not belong: politically and conceptually constructing an ‘us’ from ‘them’ in that it immediately functioned to demarcate who Britain could be ‘home’ for from those it could not. While the referendum was a one-off in this respect, it contributed towards – and fed into – the ongoing construction of a climate that was hospitable to being hateful and by consequence, enacting that hatefulness also.

2017’s unprecedented number of terror attacks can also be contextualized within that process of dichotomously demarcating ‘us’ from ‘them’ that in turn, feeds the construction of a climate that is permissible to hate. This can be seen in how for more than a decade in the UK – at least since the 7/7 terror attacks on the London public transport system in 2005 – political actors have repeatedly identified ‘Muslims’ and ‘Islam’ as problematic ‘Others’ both of which pose something of an existential threat to ‘our’ culture, values and way of life. Attributing all Muslims without differentiation the same attributes and capabilities, it is no surprise that Muslims have become repeat and indiscriminate victims of hate after every terror incident. As Poynting and Perry argue, the hospitable climate constructed by political actors and political mechanisms alike provide a ‘guide to action’ for the willing. For some at least, exacting ‘revenge’ on all and any Muslim can therefore be seen to be justified.

While 2016-7 was therefore notable, to fully understand why the levels of hate crime increased so significantly and why numbers continue to rise year on year it is necessary to look beyond those anomalous events to the socio-political landscape that has emerged and developed in the UK over the past decade or so. In doing so, it is possible to see how a hospitable climate has been established that not only bestows permission to hate but worryingly, permission to engage in hate crime: to justify the use of violence against those deemed to be ‘different’.

With this in mind, it is highly likely that hate crime numbers will continue to increase for the foreseeable future. Noting the concerns of Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services – the UK’s police watchdog – the UK’s formal exit from the EU in 2019 is likely to catalyse even more hate and by consequence, more hate crime. Add in the potential for further terror attacks, the reality of political actors further adopting nationalistic and jingoistic discourses of ‘us’ and ‘them’, as also the growing threat posed by the extreme right-wing and the future looks increasingly bleak as does the UK’s socio-political landscape.

 

For further links please see the website of the Centre for Hate Studies

 

 

Contact

Chris Allen, Associate Professor, Centre for Hate Studies, University of Leicester

Email: chris.allen@leicester.ac.uk

Twitter: @DrChrisAllen

Website: www.drchrisallen.uk

 

Copyright free images courtesy of author and Wikimedia Commons

Race Matters: A New Dialogue Between Criminology and Sociology

The symposium created much-needed energy and new connections between scholars working around race and crime.

Authors: Rod Earle, Alpa Parmar, and Coretta Phillips

“I wish my department meeting looked more like this”

This rueful but heartfelt observation by Dr Patrick Williams captures many of our intentions in organising Race Matters: A New Dialogue Between Criminology and Sociology at the LSE at the end of August 2018. We wanted to create a gathering of black and minority ethnic scholars active in criminology and the sociology of race to focus on how race and ethnicity generate not only differential experiences of criminal justice but also of criminology. To achieve this we, as organisers, opted for an invitation-only format that would allow us to focus attention on key issues and speakers, create a small participative environment and manage the prevailing white majority structures and tendencies of British criminology – by reversing them: minority ethnic presence was deliberately majoritised, prompting Patrick’s remark as he prepared to present his paper to a gathering of approximately 30 invited scholars.

Two papers opened the symposium. The first, by Professor Katheryn Russell-Brown, advanced and updated her call, in 1992, for the development of a Black Criminology. This criminology needed resources currently absent, neglected or suppressed in mainstream, white, criminology. These would draw from the humanities as much as the social sciences, refusing a binary fostered by the dominant scientific trends in US criminology. Katheryn insisted that Black arts and artists had shown themselves to be more adequate than criminology to the task of representing black lives and the injuries of American criminal justice. Black criminology was needed to widen the visions of justice that criminologist might pursue, and would be a criminology that valued the extent and range of minority ethnic perspectives.

Katheryn’s 1992 paper prompted Coretta Phillips and Ben Bowling’s 2003 call, some 10 years later in the British Journal of Criminology, for minority ethnic perspectives to be afforded greater recognition and support. Another fifteen years later, and with precious little evidence of change, her paper, with the other symposium organisers, Rod Earle and Alpa Parmar, called out to white criminology: ‘where has all the racism gone?’ The paper, like the organisational effort of the symposium itself, was prompted by a growing suspicion that British criminology lacks the theoretical, conceptual and motivational resources to explain the differentials referred to above, in criminal justice and in criminology that sees black people swept into police cells and prisons, kept out of universities and black academics off the curriculum. Strangely though, it seems that racism has disappeared from criminology’s agenda. The paper develops an analysis of the ‘disciplinary unconscious’ of criminology that allows (or worse, encourages) the erasure of race and racism from its business as an academic discipline. We pointed to the recurring absence of papers on race and racism in criminology conferences, journals and edited book collections, even as racial disproportionality in criminal justice escalates and intensifies. We identified tendencies in British criminology to highlight and theorise US experiences of race and racism at the expense of working with a narrative of British colonialism and the differentials generated by domestic criminal justice systems that have long outstripped those of the USA. As minority ethnic scholars addressing a roomful of other minority ethnic scholars Alpa and Coretta could also share and reflect on the continuing impacts of ‘everday racism’, the small injuries that perforate their academic lives and snag their careers with condescension, indifference and insults, in the knowledge their experiences were like, rather than unlike, most of those in the room.

The second and third keynote presentations were from Professor Shaun Gabbidon and Professor Karim Murji. Shaun began in the particularities of ‘shopping while black in the USA’ in a paper that explored shoplifting as a neglected object of criminological study, before telescoping out toward a sustained critique of surveillance techniques and technologies that smuggle racism through the back door of supposedly ‘race-neutral algorithms’. This is a term used and developed in Pamela Ugwudike’s paper about the ‘under-the-radar’ aspect of familiar racialized dynamics that are cloaked through the operation of new technologies. It was a theme featured in several papers, particularly those of Patrick Williams and Tara Young.

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Karim Murji’s paper focussed on the unique styles and insights of Stuart Hall. An established and legendary figure to many criminologists, Karim insisted that the measure of his reputation among criminologists rested on too narrow a reading of his extraordinarily diffuse scholarship. Karim traced and retrieved the sometimes hidden Hall and urged a wider and more critically engaged reading of his works, methods and style.

As one of the leading figures in the contemporary sociology of race the symposium was grateful to welcome Professor David Theo Goldberg for a keynote presentation, ‘On Racial Judgment’. Goldberg has been central to the resurgence of theorising around race, particularly criticising the habits of ‘post-racial’ perspectives that assert the declining significance of race and racism to social divisions. Rather than recognising a historical system of exploitation, these perspective focus on habits of prejudice and individual moral deficiencies marginal to social structures. The persistence of racial judgment, according to Goldberg, and its expansion from the formalities of criminal justice should be a warning to criminologists, and sociologists, that race retains its deadly vitality and is neglected at our peril.

Dr Suki Ali, acting as a particularly creative discussant to the unfortunately absent Professor Mary Bosworth convened a lively discussion around Mary’s paper (delivered by misbehaving technology) on ‘Race and Border Criminology’. The proceedings were also enlivened by Dr Martin Glyn’s delivery of his own ‘data verbalisation’ thesis. Mixing music, poetry and performance Martin urged participants to make their work more accessible to the black and minority ethnic communities that helped them produce it.

The final keynote, from Professor Chris Cunneen picked up and reinforced two recurring and contrasting themes in the symposium. The first of these is the increasing influence of digital technologies in covertly reproducing the dynamics of race and the functionality of racism. Drawing from research with Australia’s indigenous peoples, and particularly young men, Chris reported how policing and criminal justice agencies increasingly resorted to actuarial risk assessment technologies that reproduce discredited white racist schematics. Indigenous communities resist their pathologisation and a key feature of their resistance is their reliance on their arts and crafts to sustain themselves as communities, narrate their experience and express their resilience.

Closing the symposium with brief summary remarks Steve Garner and Omar Khan placed their emphasis on, respectively, the salience of whiteness, positionality and affect, and the way the weakness of criminological analysis of race and racism had serious policy implications.

RaceMatters3

The symposium created much-needed energy and new connections between scholars working around race and crime. As organisers, we feel it lived up to its ambition to start a new dialogue between criminologists and sociologists of race, and bridged a gap that has widened alarmingly in recent years. Emerging from the symposium are plans to launch a BSC Race Matters network and promote a Black Criminology Month to run alongside Black History Month every October. Papers from the symposium will, we hope, be included in a Special Issue of a leading criminology journal before too long. In the meantime, if you are interested in supporting the formation of a Race Matters network and enlarging the conversation around race and racism in criminology please contact us.

 

Contact

Rod Earle, The Open University (r.earle@open.ac.uk )

Alpa Parmar, Oxford University (alpa.parmar@crim.ox.ac.uk )

Coretta Phillips, London School of Economics. (coretta.phillips@lse.ac.uk )

Images: courtesy of the author

What future(s) for juvenile justice in Europe?

Modern-day cultural, social, political and economic transformations carry multiple implications for juvenile justice in Europe

Barry Goldson

Professor Barry Goldson holds the Charles Booth Chair of Social Science at the University of Liverpool and is the Chairperson of the British Society of Criminology Youth Criminology/Youth Justice Network (YC/YJN).

 

 

In 1816, the report of the first major public inquiry into ‘juvenile delinquency’ in any European country was published in London, England (Committee for Investigating the Alarming Increase of Juvenile Delinquency in the Metropolis, 1816). The inquiry reflected a series of burgeoning concerns – in England and elsewhere in Europe – regarding ‘juvenile delinquents’ in the high-density urban populations of rapidly growing industrial towns and cities. Moreover, as the nineteenth century unfolded the same concerns inspired a wide range of reform initiatives across Europe and, by the beginning of the twentieth century, recognizably ‘modern’ juvenile justice systems had emerged. In England, for example, the Children Act 1908 formed the legislative foundations of an institutional architecture designed specifically for the administration of juvenile justice and, as such, it represented similar developments taking place throughout Europe.

In 2008, exactly one hundred years following the implementation of the Children Act 1908, a global financial crisis rocked the foundations of European economies. The ‘crisis’ produced, and continues to produce, deep-cutting and wide-sweeping ‘austerity’ measures that, alongside the longer-term reformulation of welfare settlements and welfare states, have had the effect of plunging millions of Europeans into profoundly adverse social conditions. And in 2016, exactly 200 years following the publication of the first major public inquiry into ‘juvenile delinquency’, the United Kingdom European Union membership referendum – also known as the ‘EU referendum’ and the ‘Brexit referendum’ – returned a vote in support of the UK’s departure from the European Union. Many commentators have argued that recent patterns of migration and immigration into Europe imposed significant influence in shaping the vote to ‘leave’. Whatever the motivations, however, Brexit has ‘created severe tensions and strengthened exit movements elsewhere, notably in France, Italy and Denmark’ (Taylor-Gooby et al, 2017: 3).

In the opening two decades of the twenty-first century financial crisis, the re-drawing of welfare settlements and welfare states, Brexit – and the wider tensions that it signals – and unprecedented patterns of migration and immigration, represent key transformational conditions in Europe, just as the industrial revolution characterised radical change across the nineteenth century. Equally, the same modern-day cultural, social, political and economic transformations carry multiple implications for juvenile justice in Europe, just as the industrial revolution had some two hundred years earlier.

How might the past inform the present and to what extent does the present provide a compass to the future? Fundamentally, these are the questions that are addressed in a new book: Juvenile Justice In Europe: Past, Present and Future.

Furthermore:

  • What do we know about contemporary juvenile crime trends in Europe and how are nation states responding?
  • Is punitivity and intolerance eclipsing child welfare and pedagogical imperatives, or is ‘child-friendly justice’ holding firm?
  • How might we best understand both the convergent and the divergent patterning of juvenile justice in a changing and reformulating Europe?
  • How is juvenile justice experienced by identifiable constituencies of children and young people both in communities and in institutions?
  • What impacts are sweeping austerity measures, together with increasing mobilities and migrations, imposing?
  • How can comparative juvenile justice be conceptualised and interpreted?
  • What might the future hold for juvenile justice in Europe at a time of profound uncertainty and flux?

The above represent a series of pressing questions for juvenile justice researchers and youth criminologists. The book begins to define and develop the co-ordinates of a wider critical research agenda that is vital for advancing knowledge of, and intervening in, the ways in which children and young people in conflict with the law are governed, and will be governed, through reformulating juvenile justice systems in Europe.

 

References

Committee for Investigating the Alarming Increase of Juvenile Delinquency in the Metropolis (1816) Report of the Committee for Investigating the Alarming Increase of Juvenile Delinquency in the Metropolis. London: J. F. Dove.

Goldson, B. (ed) (2018) Juvenile Justice in Europe: Past, Present and Future. London and New York: Routledge.

Taylor-Gooby, P., Leruth, B. and Chung, H. (eds) After Austerity: Welfare State transformation in Europe after the great recession. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

 

Contact

Professor Barry Goldson, Department of Sociology, Social Policy and Criminology, School of Law and Social Justice, University of Liverpool

 Email: b.goldson@liverpool.ac.uk

 

Copyright free image courtesy of author