Jeff Cuthbert, Minister for Communities and Tackling Poverty
I am pleased to be launching ‘Tackling Hate Crimes and Incidents: A Framework for Action’ today at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.
The Framework was consulted upon between July and October 2013 where we received 120 responses and we engaged with over 400 people across Wales including through large scale consultation events and focus groups. This has helped to ensure that we have listened to a range of people and organisations across Wales with strong representation across all the protected characteristics that the Framework covers.
These include race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity and age. We have added age as an additional protected characteristic, as consultation responses have strongly highlighted how both older people and children and young people are experiencing, and being targeted for hate crime. The Framework also includes tackling both cyber and far right hate which can have significant detrimental impact upon victims across Wales.
The Framework forms part of the delivery of the Welsh Government’s Strategic Equality Plan and fulfills a commitment within the Programme for Government. It focuses on three strategic objectives to support delivery – prevention: to tackle prejudice and ingrained stereotypes; supporting victims to increase reporting and the provision of advice; and improving the multi-agency response to enhance better partnership working and to tackle perpetrators.
The Framework is based on action and is supported with a delivery plan which is cross-cutting across a number of Welsh Government policy and practice areas. This delivery plan will be updated annually to ensure transparent delivery. This will be monitored by an Independent Advisory Group, which I will be forming later in the year. This will include a number of community and third sector organisations to provide with me advice and guidance on implementation.
I am pleased that Welsh Government has been able to support the delivery of the Framework from an early stage through the Equality and Inclusion Grant. I will be launching a new Hate Crime Reporting Centre at the launch which will be delivered by Victim Support. This will provide a flexible reporting mechanism for victims through a new helpline and an on-line supporting facility. This system will include enhanced and integrated support for victims across Wales and will also fund case workers and a number of volunteers who will provide peer support for victims of hate crime across Wales.
The launch will also be an opportunity to show some further innovative projects from across Wales which have also been funded through the Equality and Inclusion Grant. For example, the Framework highlights that hate crimes are historically not reported by Gypsy and Traveller communities or by Refugees and Asylum Seekers. We are funding Save the Children and Welsh Refugee Council to work with communities to increase the recording of hate crimes and to increase confidence to report. We are also funding Taking Flight Theatre Company who will be raising awareness of tackling disability hate crimes within our schools and youth groups; and Stonewall Cymru and Youth Cymru will play important roles to tackle hate crimes based upon sexual orientation and gender identity.
There is a debate tabled on Tackling Hate Crimes and Incidents: A Framework for Action on 20th May 2014 and I welcome the chance to hear the views from Assembly Members. I have been really pleased to receive strong support from Members on this important commitment in the past. I am immensely proud of this Government’s approach to promoting equality and fairness and the work of the Framework will provide a coordinated approach and response to ensure that we do not fail victims of hate crimes or incidents in Wales.