Head of Durham University Law School Professor Thom Brooks has told a Commons inquiry that people found guilty of committing ‘hate crimes’ should be put on an official register.
A professor of law and government at the university, Brooks advised that a ‘Hate Crime Offenders Register’ would work in a similar fashion to the sex offenders register, putting restrictions on what jobs people who are listed are allowed to do.
Such an approach would send a “clear signal” about the severity of such offences, the professor argued in a written submission to the Commons Home Affairs Committee, which is holding an inquiry into hate crime and its consequences.
He said: “Given increasing concerns about hate crimes, there may be scope for Parliament to consider establishing a Hate Crime Offenders Register along the lines of the Sex Offenders Register – and to similar effect.
“Anyone on a Hate Crime Offenders Register could be restricted from working with children and/or working in certain professions. This seems sensible, mirrors current policies in place and would help send a clearer signal of how serious these offences are.”
Since last year’s referendum, the media has regularly reported on “record levels” of hate crime as evidence that Britain is in the grip of an epidemic of intolerance.
The rise has also attracted the attention of international bodies like the UN and NGOs like Human Rights Watch, who have used the soaring figures claimed to demand that politicians keep quiet on issues like immigration.
However, a key aim of the UK government’s strategy against hate crime is to raise the number of reports. Much of what is outlined in the “plan for tackling hate crime” is dedicated to furthering this goal, with the Home Office unveiling a whole host of measures which are being introduced “with a view, ultimately, to increase reporting.”
The document states: “[An] increase in recorded crime is welcome as it is likely to reflect improved police practice and victim confidence in coming forward to report crimes.”
And in January, the Crown Prosecution Service issued revised guidelines reaffirming the fact that no evidence is needed to bring a criminal complaint against someone for a “hate crime”, as “reporting… is subjective and is based on the perception of the victim”.