Police and Hate Crime

By: A.C.

This article is written with little enthusiasm.

I am not someone to criticise our local Police Service, and in fact I tend to be supportive where I can.

As disabled people, probably 99% of us have had some form of fight against the DWP, or medical reports that do not in any way, reflect what is actually going on in someone’s life.

That sense of knowing that somewhere there is something written, or has been spoken about them personally that causes difficulty in their life when dealing with officialdom. Call it what you will, but it is pre-judgement, bias, prejudice, or because one is a nuisance as far as the official is concerned.

Police Scotland inform the public: “If you have been targeted because of your disability, race, religion, sexual orientation or transgender identity, or you are aware of someone else being targeted, we want you to report it.

When one actually gets through to an operator on 101, as I did recently, it took over 25 minutes waiting on the phone. When answered, I was quizzed as to why I thought my complaint was targeting or a hate crime.

This was the third call in as many days about the same problem. To me, along with a very long historical situation, it was self–evident.

The reasons as to why I need to call the police are probably counted in reams of paper in the depths of some police archive.

There is no point in discussing the targeting or reasons, because that is historical, but appears to be passed on from generation to generation. The responses of the Police appear to also take the same pre-judged viewpoint – in other words what one Police Officer’s opinion of the personality or otherwise of the complainer becomes “fact” and is to be relied on, as regards how to approach to the problem at hand.

In much the same way as a troublesome complainer at the Surgery , Clinic or Job Centre gets short shrift with little acknowledgement, when they read notes from another official or clinician. It is called unconscious bias, or pre-judgement. There are harsher words and terms I could use but I will stick with unconscious bias. That means the complainer will never be able to get over their point of view. Whether that be from a racial, gender, disability or religious viewpoint, because the person one has to deal with is already biased as to what they are going to do for this person, because their of his or her colleagues opinions.

As regards my complaint, a different PC attended, for the third time in as many days, and from the outset it seemed like he had already made up his mind as to what he thought the problem was and how he was going to deal with it.

It was clear he thought I was the problem – because I was complaining too much. In short he would ignore all previous targeting, ignore the evidence or otherwise of neighbours and treat this as a one –off incident.

His clumsy, undiplomatic method of interaction with myself, made things worse, and in the end I was very subtly warned that I would face prosecution if should I ever interact with these youths again. Up until that particular incident, I never had done such a thing.

Now the PC did his duty, and took the evidence I had, which included photographs and my own typed statement of facts and complaint, went to the local school where the Headmaster and Deputy read the riot Act to the youth/s involved.

What this PC has done is to render trust between me and my neighbours to a very low level indeed.

It has all served to remind me that what is said or promised to one’s face, is never what is written down or indeed what action will be taken. Facts are downplayed for administration or time reasons, because facts can cause too much report writing or investigation. So the severity or otherwise of the offence is also minimalised.

Simpler to just take the easy route and accept what others say about a person, and stymie further reports of harassment or damage to property by doing as little as is necessary.

Indeed, being subtly threatened will stop further reports, but it will not stop the harassment or damage. I am now concerned that should I report further targeting that the emphasis will be on what action, if any, that I took and whether there is evidence to prosecute me. That is indeed an effective “shutting–up” of a complainer.

 It will stop goodwill from ordinary decent people who up to that point, trusted that the Police actually wanted to fulfil their ideal of dealing with hate crime against disable people.

Having experienced the response and attitudes of numerous PC’s over the years about similar problems leaves me in a quandary as to any advice I can give. The Police will never know if you are being harassed or targeted if you do not keep reporting it.

On the other hand, it would seem that at the patrol or beat level, unconscious bias because of previous calls, colours their response and attitude. Being targeted is not nice, and I appreciate that Constables are in short supply and patrols are as rare as hen’s teeth nowadays. However, not being left alone is very distressing also. Equally the Justice Administration system means that youths are unlikely to be prosecuted, and literally have a letter of warning from an overworked Justice Management team member.

So is the statement “If you have been targeted because of your disability, race, religion, sexual orientation or transgender identity, or you are aware of someone else being targeted, we want you to report it.” Is inany way useful for disabled people, or is it just empty words to satisfy a protocol that says the Police are listening?

I know that senior officers will use very soothing words to reassure me or other people who have disability. However, unless they have experienced it, they do not understand disability or its constraints.

 Aberdeen Action on Disability is an Official Third Party Reporting Centre. This is a way of reporting matters to the Police through our Office. We simply take details and pass them on to the Police. Many people find this method more comfortable in the first instance and the there will always be a sympathetic ear.

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