Council unveils hate crime strategy amid concerns over ‘divisions’

Broxtowe Borough Council offices.
By Anna Whittaker, Local Democracy Reporter

A council has unveiled a three-year hate crime action plan which one councillor hopes will tackle “far-right rhetoric”.

At a cabinet meeting on March 14, Broxtowe Borough Council approved the Hate Crime Action Plan 2023-2026.

In 2021/22, there were 99 incidents of hate crime in the borough, which was down from the previous year’s figure of 108.

One councillor criticised a Facebook group with “over 11,000 followers” which he said has “vile posts about the migrant crisis”.

It comes after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has made “stopping the boats” one of his five priorities of the year.

Earlier this month Home Secretary Suella Braverman unveiled a new Illegal Migration Bill ensuring that people would be “removed swiftly” after arriving in the UK. Mr Sunak described the plans as “tough” but “necessary and fair”.

Language Ms Braverman used in announcing the plan was met with a barrage of criticism from outside her party, including accusations it could encourage hate and was similar to that used by sections of the far-right.

The term ‘Hate Crime’ can be used to describe a range of criminal behaviour
where the perpetrator demonstrates hostility towards the victim’s disability, age, race, religion, gender, sexual orientation or transgender identity.

As part of the Broxtowe plan, the council will signpost repeat victims of hate crime to support services and deliver hate crime leaflets across the borough.

Individuals with extremist views will be referred to the Prevent team, which works to divert and protect children and young people from radicalisation.

The plan involves events and signposting for areas including disabilities, gender and sexual orientation.

Greg Marshall (Lab) said: “There is a threat on our doorstep that isn’t going away”.

He said: “Every single one of us should welcome this plan.

“There have been high profile news stories over the last few weeks centring on some of the most regressive, divisive and far-right rhetoric you will see from a Government in post second world war history. With the treatment that this country will be dishing out to asylum seekers and migrants.

“For decades we’ve had a proud history of assisting some of the most vulnerable people in the world displaced by war, famine and climate crisis.

“It should be a particular concern to us in Broxtowe because there are social media pages with more than 11,000 followers in this borough with vile, racist posts around the migrant crisis.

“It is devastating. We should always be on guard because of the political climate and the threat of the far right that this borough will always face.

“Less than 20 years ago, we had the shame of a British National Party (BNP) councillor elected to this council.

“Every single one of us should challenge hate crime when we see it.”

Councillor Richard MacRae (Ind) added: “The hate crime action plan is important, there is definitely no room for hate crime of any kind in Broxtowe.

“It’s sad that we live in a world where people can’t get on with each other.”

Councillor Steve Carr (Lib Dem) said: “This has been stirring up for a long time now.

“We are at a dangerous phase where we have an unpopular government who seem to use division as a way to bolster support.

“Some of the comments you see on social media outlets within this borough are disgraceful and bordering on illegal.”

The hate crime plan was approved unanimously by councillors.

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