The challenge of managing prejudice and hate in offending behaviours
Hate crime is a global phenomenon as well as a local one. It is characterised by conflicting lifestyles, entrenched and fleeting prejudices, personal and political incidents and events. Other features include legitimate and historical grievances, retaliation and escalation, and an incapacity or unwillingness to engage in dialogue. The impact differs depending on victim-perpetrator profile, the specific impact and response of others. Hate crime ranges from low level antisocial offending to murder, genocide and some forms of terrorism. The role of charismatic leaders is not to be underestimated and media coverage can fuel prejudice and division and foment stereotypes (Nielsen 2002). Britain has long been familiar with the pernicious effects of hate preachers from the far right and is now working to contain espoused violence from Islamic extremists. Whilst we are increasingly recording, prosecuting and intervening in crime behaviours aggravated by racial or religious components, we still lag behind in our responses to hate crimes targeted at the lesbian, gay, transgendered and bisexual members of our society and at those with learning difficulties, mental health problems and disabilities. Indeed, the former Director of Public Prosecutions highlighted responses to disability hate crime as ‘a scar on the conscience of criminal justice’ (McDonald 2008).