SRtRC Wales interviewed the Commissioner about racism in society, Hate Crime incidents and what can be done to help those affected by racism.
Show Racism the Red Card do a fantastic job in Wales and play an essential role in stemming the tide of racism.
Commissioner for Gwent
Do you think racism in society has improved over the past 20 years?
We have come a long way in the last 20 years and we need to recognise the progress that has been made, in particular where reporting incidents of racism and other forms of hate crime to the Police is concerned. However, with a rise in reported incidents of Islamophobia and with news of racism in sport never too far away from the front pages of our newspapers or our TV screens, it’s obvious that there is still much more to be done where eradicating racism from society is concerned.
What steps has the PCC/ Police taken to help erase racism from society?
As highlighted in my Victims Charter which I launched last year, Gwent Police has a duty to treat everyone the same regardless of their race, culture or religion. People from ethnic minority backgrounds should be assured that when they report a crime or incident of racism that it will be dealt with thoroughly and professionally.
As Commissioner I’m pleased to support the Gwent Police Ethnic Minority Association (GEMA) which was originally formed in 1999 as a support network for black and minority ethnic staff at the Force.
It’s my aim that Gwent Police reflects the minority communities it serves and I’m proud of the vital role that GEMA plays in advising the Force on how it engages with black and minority ethnic communities and on policies regarding race, equality and diversity.
Nothing is more important than public confidence in the police service and that’s why it’s essential that we set and achieve high standards of equality and fairness, both in the way we provide our services and the way we treat our colleagues.
Do you think institutional racism exists in our society and if so, how can we improve this?
Unfortunately there are pockets of racism in every part of society but I wouldn’t go as far to say that institutional racism is endemic in the UK. Children and young people are easily influenced and they learn from what adults teach them. That’s why it’s important that we teach as many as we can that there’s no room for racism in society. We need to work together to raise awareness and eradicate it and that’s why it’s important for organisations like Show Racism the Red Card to spread the word that it’s not acceptable.
The new Welsh Government Hate Crime initiative has been rolled out to the public. Do you think the public understand what a Hate Crime incident is?
I don’t think the public yet fully appreciate the range of victims that come under the definition of hate crime. We don’t want victims to suffer in silence and that’s why support from frameworks such as the Welsh Government’s new ‘Tackling Hate Crimes and Incidents’ action framework is vital.
We have seen an increase in the reporting of disabled hate crime in Gwent which provides an indication that people have more confidence in picking up the phone.
This new framework adds considerable value to the work of Gwent Police and its partners in protecting people from serious harm and will improve the quality of service available to victims of hate crime, including racism, in Gwent.
Whether it’s hate crime to do with race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, gender or age, there should be no room for these crimes in 21st century society.
How important is it for someone to report a Hate Crime incident, no matter how small or unimportant it may seem to be?
I will always implore people to report a crime but I understand that it can often be very difficult because the victims sometimes feel isolated or they experience a lack of confidence which prevents them from reporting an incident. That’s why it’s vitally important they feel they are going to get supported. They will definitely get the support they need and deserve here in Gwent.
How valuable do you think the work of Show Racism the Red Card is in Wales?
Show Racism the Red Card do a fantastic job in Wales and play an essential role in stemming the tide of racism. It’s taking the messages into schools and using role models in the world of sport to spread the word and highlight that racism is poisonous and needs to be eradicated.
What is the key to stopping future incidents of racism and Hate Crime in society?
It’s not about enforcement it’s about education and it’s about changing people’s actions and attitudes and making them think about the impact their actions can have on others. We’ve got to teach people that racism is wrong from a young age. It’s about making even more people aware of diversity and the effects of racism and enabling them to challenge racism and promote equality.