Guest Blog - Hate Crime Awareness Week: A victim's story
Hate Crime can come in many forms and as Hate Crime Awareness Week draws to a close, we're sharing a story from one of our BAME Independent Advisory Group members.
The victim wishes to remain anonymous but wanted to talk about it and how the police handled the case.
Around three years ago, I was victim of hate. In case you aren't familiar with the term, a hate crime is where the victim perceives they have been treated differently due to their race, sexual orientation, transgender identity, religion or disability. It can also be reported by a witness. The police also record hate incidents - the difference being that a hate crime constitutes a criminal offence whereas a hate incident does not.
Although there was not enough evidence to prove it was hate motivated beyond reasonable doubt, I became subjected to a very covert and sly form of racist treatment. I strongly feel that any form of hate - incidents or crimes - should not go unnoticed.
During a challenging time in my life, I found myself attending a civil court hearing. I was subjected to totally false claims of having committed crimes of battery and shoplifting. The case for the prosecution was so poor; on the dates they cited for battery I would have been under 10 years old and an early teens shoplifter. Historically, theft, violence and the illicit selling of substances are often stereotyped as crimes that black people commit.
However, I am pleased to say Wiltshire Police were straight on the case. I felt listened to and no longer on my own. They quickly researched and found that potentially malicious changes had been made to the case documents that were provided by a third party.
The reason I believe this was a racially motivated hate crime is due to the vocabulary that was used, and the crimes they chose to accuse me of. I was interrogated to the point where medical professionals got involved and verified that malicious comments about my mental health were unfounded and not to be taken seriously. I experienced witness intimidation and was told I was 'uppity' - a term often used for a black person that doesn't know their place. It wore me down and down.
Wiltshire Police provided a letter saying the allegations were false. The case faltered and I am pleased to say I do not have a criminal record. But it goes to show hate crimes and hate incidents don't just happen in the street or at home. They can take place at work, in medical settings, schools and other settings.
I am relieved Wiltshire Police took action to help me, but the false accusations had a big impact and I ended up in therapy. All because one person made the decision to label me a criminal, just because of who I am. This type of racist stereotyping is not uncommon and has left me feeling terrified every day I will be accused of a crime that I did not commit - unfortunately this is the case for most of the black community.
Today, I am happy to say I am no longer in therapy and I hope my story helps to improve your trust and confidence with the police - please do come forward if you are hate crime victim or witness. I am forever grateful for their support.