Thursday, 25 November 2010

Hate Crime in North Wales.

The Daily Post reported today that 1800 hate crimes had been reported in North Wales over the last 5 years and the report goes into some detail as to the ages of the alleged perpetrators. One of the categories of hate crime recorded is Welsh English relationships and I have previously blogged on this subject here and here and it concerned the case of Gwion Jones from Porthmadog who was heavily fined for making anti English comments about his ex employer on his Facebook page.

Following on from these blogs I then made a Freedom of Information request of North Wales Police and posed the following questions:
1.The total number of hate incidents reported in your force area in the 12 months ending on the 31st July 2010.
2.The number of those incidents that were anti English hate crimes.
3.The number of those incidents that were anti Welsh hate crimes.
4.As of Tuesday 31st August what proportion of those incidents as at 2) above were detected
5.As above for 3)
6.Finally how many prosecutions took place in respect of Q 2 and 3.

On the 29th September 2010, I received a response from North Wales Police which was in effect a 'refusal' under Section 17(5) of the Freedom of Information Act that answers to most of the questions were available on the North Wales Police website

North Wales Police's Monthly Information Bulletin shows that in the year to end of July 2010, there were a total of 147 Hate crimes of these 12 were categorised Welsh/English hate crimes and 58% of them were detected. North Wales Police 'refused' to provide a breakdown of those 12 crimes stating that,
"...would involve manually reviewing each record...The cost of providing you with the information is above the amount to which we are legally required to respond."

Section 12 of the Freedom of Information (Fees and Appropriate Limits) Regulations 2004, states that public authorities do not have to supply the information if it costs £450 or above to retrieve the information at £25 per hour. This means that North Wales Police are refusing on the basis that it will take MORE than 18 hours to scan 12 crime reports! I was also refused an answer to the number of prosecutions on the basis that the Ministry of Justice holds that information.

This frankly is a deliberate attempt to withold information and NOT to comply with the Section 16 of the Freedom of Information Act which directs agencies to provide advice and assistance to applicants, which will be the subject of a complaint to the Information Commissioners Office.

Not only did I just make this FOIA request to North Wales Police but also to the other three forces in Wales and all the Scottish Police forces. Whilst many were as unhelpful as North Wales Police others like Dyfed Powys Police provided all the information requested as did some Scottish forces.

The lessons to be learnt here is not to accept no as an answer and to determine whether the public authority has acted reasonably and complied with the Act.

13 comments:

Royston Jones said...

It's been obvious since the introduction of the legislation on 'hate crimes' that police, media and political establishment have no interest in identifying incidents of anti-Welsh behaviour.

Yet another example of political considerations interfering with the application of legistion and, consequently, discrediting that legislation.

This happens all too often and results - I regret to report - in people losing faith in the British political system and the laws our glorious leaders in London enact.

So it's not all bad.

George Howat said...

It is commendable you are highlighting 12 crimes in a year...are you saying North Wales Police have a sinister motive and are covering up something, hence they are not complying...clearly that would be illegal, and very concerning to the pu...blic.

Or is the reticence to comply, a far more ordinary issue for hard pressed middle managers of justifying use of the reduced resources we have, and which will continue to be depleted as far as we are told. I ask what exactly it is you are getting at because one is an issue of integrity, and if this is your point, is concerning and damaging to the force, and a serious allegation. The other is an issue of cost-effective use of the finite resources available. Clearly that too would be illegal, but with a far less sensationalist spin on it.

I would never minimise the effects of such crimes on the individual victim, but don't you feel there are crime related matters or issues re protecting vulnerable people that need a light shone on them by public representatives that affect a far greater proportion of the population than 12 people?

Like, will there soon be ANY staff or officers actually employed by the police and in a position to carry out routine traditional police work of responding to emergency calls, investigating crime etc, never mind the administrative and bureaucratic tasks like these.

Doesn't the council have a protocol with the police that any race/hate crime reported is shared when the report is processed as part of our partnership and community cohesion policies? And if so why can't you get the figures that way? I thought there was such a process. If not shouldn't there be? There are plenty meetings held around this issue which is not solely a police problem, but a problem for us all. Otherwise how can they reasonably gauge community tension and identify areas and persons who may need targeted awareness programmes or bridge-building exercises, to prevent and reduce this type of incident through education, along with any punitive CJS action.

There are information sharing protocols in other areas of crime which require a multi-agency reponse if we are to truly to respond as a community to the challenges of those who behave in such a way and those who are affected by it. Why not in Race /Hate crime.....then you could get whatever figures you need without all this faff and umbrage....

George Howat said...

It is commendable you are highlighting 12 crimes in a year...are you saying North Wales Police have a sinister motive and are covering up something, hence they are not complying...clearly that would be illegal, and very concerning to the pu...blic.

Or is the reticence to comply, a far more ordinary issue for hard pressed middle managers of justifying use of the reduced resources we have, and which will continue to be depleted as far as we are told. I ask what exactly it is you are getting at because one is an issue of integrity, and if this is your point, is concerning and damaging to the force, and a serious allegation. The other is an issue of cost-effective use of the finite resources available. Clearly that too would be illegal, but with a far less sensationalist spin on it.

I would never minimise the effects of such crimes on the individual victim, but don't you feel there are crime related matters or issues re protecting vulnerable people that need a light shone on them by public representatives that affect a far greater proportion of the population than 12 people?

George Howat said...

...continued -
Like, will there soon be ANY staff or officers actually employed by the police and in a position to carry out routine traditional police work of responding to emergency calls, investigating crime etc, never mind the administrative and bureaucratic tasks like these.

Doesn't the council have a protocol with the police that any race/hate crime reported is shared when the report is processed as part of our partnership and community cohesion policies? And if so why can't you get the figures that way? I thought there was such a process. If not shouldn't there be? There are plenty meetings held around this issue which is not solely a police problem, but a problem for us all. Otherwise how can they reasonably gauge community tension and identify areas and persons who may need targeted awareness programmes or bridge-building exercises, to prevent and reduce this type of incident through education, along with any punitive CJS action.

There are information sharing protocols in other areas of crime which require a multi-agency reponse if we are to truly to respond as a community to the challenges of those who behave in such a way and those who are affected by it. Why not in Race /Hate crime.....then you could get whatever figures you need without all this faff and umbrage....

Plaid Gwersyllt said...

George - Thank you for your defensive and lengthy comments. I haven't read them all anymore than you have read this blog AND the links. My theory is that a person who are involved in an anti English incident is FAR more likely to be prosecu...ted than someone who is involved in an anti Welsh incident. Because of NWP's reticence in telling me how many of the 12 hate crimes reported in the 12 months to end of July 2010 are anti English and anti Welsh it is proving difficult to prove the theory. In fact NWP are HIDING behind an exemption in the FOIA that prevents them from giving information because of cost; but some of us know how easy and quick it is to check the MO on RMS and it doesn't take 18 hours and cost £450 does it.

George Howat said...

Sorry you haven't read my comments...kinda defeats the object of putting your opinions on here...or is it only comments that agree with you that deserve your attention....and you accuse me of being defensive :0)

No wonder students feel the n...eed to throw a wobbler every now and again if they get the same response from their elected reps, as this one. It is frustrating.

I thought I was making fair comment and I hoped helpful suggestions re this complicated social issue at the end. You wouldn't have got that far and the only reason I've bothered to post this is that maybe someone out there did read it and they deserve some balance. Yes I grant you I'm a bit defensive but to be fair, you've published serious assertions on here at length and I'm really not sure you have grounds to make them. As you said, it's your theory. But it's no skin off my nose except that it reflects badly on the organisation and if you are stating an opinion rather than all the facts then that's not fair is it? I am proud of the organisation and the colleagues I work with, and never one to resist change I embrace it, but sometime the old bill are just an easy target for the media and politicians. It distracts from their weaknesses.

George Howat said...

...continued -
You are right, I haven't looked at your blogs and links to government sites, I'd be surprised if anyone on here except other politicos would bother to look either. Thus an interesting point is lost. Couldn't you make your point here? Just like your earlier updates today on here re education, I have a 9 year old son, I want the best for him, but I couldn't even tell if what you were talking about was relevant to me as a parent because the posts don't lend themselves to most people's idea of plain speaking...we are continually advised to get away from jargon and abbreviation in my job. Theres a good reason for that.

BUT Arfon, unlike you, I took the time to read what you said albeit sans links, and think about it, and respond. Shame you didn't afford me the same courtesy. As ma gran would say, the height of bad manners.

I also made the point that my understanding is you didn't have to jump through the FOI hoops to get the info you need, because you could get it from the councils themselves. That is my understanding. If I've got it wrong fair enough, I'd be interested for you to tell me what actually happens because in tat case I am unclear about what the councils response to race/hate incidents is and I was hoping you might agree that you should be able to access that info and the info should be shared between police and local authority, because whatever your 12 statistics uncover, the problem of hate crime is not a police issue, it's an issue for us all. Cuppa tea now I think...

Plaid Gwersyllt said...

George - In fact I did skim read your comments but wasn't sure your comments related to the blog content so I didn't take much notice of them as you still don't seem to ack what I'm saying. I can't get the info I require through FOIA not to... mention without it. The reason why I write blogs is to convey my view on the world and I nearly always publish comments whether I agree with them or not unless they are offensive or racist. I expect comments to be on the subject but yours are not, as one says, 'you go off message'

Anonymous said...

I am a victim of hate crime in North Wales. My house windows have been smashed; my cats have been brutally and viciously murdered; my drive has been damaged; my car and drive buried by dumped snow from the entire road by a lout driving a tractor; deliveries, tools and materials have been stolen from my property; I am constantly harassed by bullies; in all my time living in this hell hole I have NOT experienced a single act of kindness, a single friendly gesture. I am a lone female, over 60 years old. Most of the crimes are perpetrated cowardly behind my back.

My crime? I am not Welsh.

You people making excuses for this vandalism and sheltering the perpetrators make me sick.

Plaid Gwersyllt said...

We are not making excuse for any vandalism or bigotry, the point I am making is that you are more likely to be prosecuted for Welsh on English hate crime than English on Welsh hate crime. We are not condoning ANY form of criminal activity.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 12:33
Why are people treating you in this manner, have you made an effort to fit into your community and learn Welsh or have you stood aloof of them? Are you one of these people who believe's that every time you hear Welsh spoken, they are speaking about you. Finally, how did you end up in Wales? Was it because of inmigration into English towns and cities?

Diversity said...

The last comments is exactly the problem - it is assummed,this non welsh person has done something wrong to deserve their treatment.

In 18 months i have been living in wales, i have personally heard more verbal hate abuse than the last 40 years of my life living in large cities. I couldn't tell you if the perpetraitors where welsh, english, european or otherwise, but what i do know is the level of hate crime for the small community i live in is significantly more prevalent then anywhere else i have lived. In the same 18 months i have lived in wales, my car has been vandlised 6 times, my husband attacked and various other direct abuses have taken place at me and my daughters in public, because we are not welsh. It has little to do with not speaking welsh since the majority of welsh people do not speak welsh either. It is the fact we are english that causes the problem. I have gone out of my way to be accepted, but that doesn't make any difference to those intent on being abusive. The issue is education regardless of nationality, race, sex, religion. This has to do with educating people, welsh, english or otherwise that their behaviour is unacceptable. There needs to be more eduction, more reporting of crimes and more prosecutions made public - so everyone fully understands that hate crimes will be tolerated regarless of where you come from or the language you speak.

Anonymous said...

There's a good deal of anti-social behaviour in small towns up and down the country and, of course, across the border as well.

I would say very little of this has anything to do with ethnicity. Diversity believes that the anti-social behaviour directed at her family is ethnically based. I guess there must be evidence for this eg they know who vandalised the car, who attacked the husband etc. They must also know that this behaviour was motivated by anti-english hatred and not common-or-garden ASB.

The obvious thing would be to report it to the police. I would say that they are far more likely to investigate such hate crime than everyday ASB and the courts more likely to hand out stiff sentences.

Do those who abuse Diversity's family also abuse other Welsh folk in the locality? I would have thought it was quite rare for anti-social types to target English folk exclusively.