Academic journal article Journal of Literary and Cultural Disability Studies

Challenging 'Hate Crime': Research, Policy, and Practice, International Criminological Research Unit

Academic journal article Journal of Literary and Cultural Disability Studies

Challenging 'Hate Crime': Research, Policy, and Practice, International Criminological Research Unit

Article excerpt

Held at the Merseyside Maritime Museum on 13 October 2015, this conference brought together recent research, policy, and practice to discuss the latest developments in challenging hate crime. Organized by the International Criminological Research Unit (ICRU) at the University of Liverpool, in partnership with Merseyside Police and Moving On with Life and Learning (MOWLL), the importance of "partnership" echoed throughout the day. The transdisciplinary nature of the conference invited speakers from a range of fields to explore the impact of hate crime for the communities too often placed at the centre of victimology. The wide range of speakers included activists, academics, and practitioners representing disability, race, religion, sexual orientation, and gender identity. While recognizing the unique cases of hate crime for these different communities, the idea of collaboration was central to developing future debates that could continue to challenge all aspects of hate crime.

Introducing the day's keynotes, Professor David Ormerod employed a political interpretation of hate crime. In relation to the project assigned to the Law of Commissions by the Ministry of Justice, he provided a brief outline of the Commissions response for the development of hate crime legislation. The primary concern underpinning this project was the need to extend the categories of "aggravated offences" and "stirring up hatred" so that they applied to all five protected characteristics. In a politically informed exploration of the conceptual tensions underpinning hate crime legislation, Professor Ormerod concluded by giving the final recommendation of the Commission not to extend the current offences. Although justified on the basis that such offences lacked relevance to the forms of hate crime most often experienced by both lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT), and disabled communities, this conclusion generated a varied response among the academics, activists, and professionals in the room. While I recognized the political complexity that legislative change entails, this conclusion left me pondering the political "misinterpretation" of a human rights agenda that continued a system of legislative discrepancy. Moreover, I could not help feeling pessimistic about the political developments aiming to challenge hate crime. If disabled and LGBT communities are not given equal status and protection in legislation, I wonder how they might gain this in a society that has historically nurtured a rejection of difference.

Centred on a "public health" approach to the problem of hate crime, Professor Paul Iganski invited us to move away from the criminological focus of "reporting" crime toward a global perspective on both the spatial and psycho-social consequences. The psycho-social approach extended my own interpretation of victimization, and led me to focus not only on the instant physical and emotional effects of hate crime but also on those of post-traumatic stress, identity, and visibility. Perhaps of greater impact, however, Professor Iganski reaffirmed the spatial impact of hate crime, such as the sense of "locational imprisonment," whereby many communities feel restricted and have to avoid certain areas that threaten their identity. The unsettling severity of a "global problem" questions the cultural and social conditions in which hate crime is nested, probing the need for preventative measures on both individual and community levels. Professor Iganski's attempt to move toward a public health approach therefore encouraged a model of resistance and prevention predicated upon a communitive challenge to hate crime.

These keynotes introduced the conference to hate crime in relation to race, religion, gender identity, and sexual orientation. However, my main reflections here are on the work of Professor Alan Roulstone regarding disablist hate crime.1

Professor Roulstone introduced the conference to many of the issues faced when challenging disablist hate crime. …

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