Underreporting of hate crimes against Roma and Travellers

After a 57% increase in reports of hate crime in the week following the 2016 EU referendum, the Home Affairs Select Committee launched an inquiry into 'Hate Crime and its violent consequences'. Caritas Social Action Network (CSAN) made a submission to the inquiry based on evidence from the Irish Chaplaincy, the Catholic Association for Racial Justice and Catholic pastoral workers ministering to the children of Gypsy, Roma, Traveller (GRT) communities communities.

The charities have found that incidents of hate crime against members of GRT communities are underreported due to a lack of confidence that reports will lead to effective action and a mistrust of both criminal justice agencies and the police.

Conn MacGabhann, Manager of the Traveller Equality Project for the Irish Chaplaincy commented: "As we highlighted in our response to the Committee's inquiry, our experience has been that there is an unwillingness on the part of the police and the CPS to regard anti-Gypsy and anti-Traveller discrimination as seriously as other forms of racism. We welcome the Committee's intention to highlight hate crime and hope to see a clear indication by word and deed from Government Ministers and agencies that anti-GRT racism is illegal and will be challenged vigorously by the state."

CSAN is supporting #OperationReportHate, a campaign led by the Traveller Movement to raise awareness of hate crimes against the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller and communities and the need to report them, with the aim of improving data collection and for hate crimes against these communities to be given the same public profile and recognition as other hate crimes.

National Police Chiefs' Council Lead for Hate Crime, Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton said: "I am delighted to support this important initiative. All forms of hate crime are unacceptable, in any circumstance, and it is important that all communities feel comfortable in reporting hate crimes.

To help Gypsies, Traveller and Roma report hate crimes against them more easily, we will soon be launching a dedicated page on the 'True Vision' website for Hate Crime reports, which will also contain links to third party reporting centres."

In his address to 7,000 Gypsies, Roma and Travellers in October 2015, Pope Francis stated that "the time has come to put an end to age-old prejudices, preconceptions and mutual mistrust that are often at the base of discrimination, racism and xenophobia. No one must feel isolated, and no one is authorized to trample on the dignity and rights of others."

Tags: Catholic Charities, Caritas Social Action Network, Conn MacGabhann, Travellers, Roma, Hate Crime, Pope Francis

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