Imagine walking to pray and having racist abuse hurled at you or feeling fearful of being the victim of sexual harassment because of the route you take home, or going to school and being routinely abused because of your sexuality.
For many residents of Croydon this is a daily reality. Lots of people think hate crime is about race but it’s also about gender, sexuality, disability and religion.
It can include: verbal abuse, intimidation, threats, harassment, assault and bullying, as well as damage to property.
Croydon Voluntary Action is running a campaign to tackle hate crime in the local area, something which has steadily risen since the Brexit vote.
The two-year project led by community builder Priya Loomba is funded by the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime as part of the race hate reduction strategy.
Working with the council and police; the project has two objectives to:
identify what is happening in the community and create an environment where people feel able to understand what hate crime is and report it.
and where something has already taken place to look at the environment where it happened and make it a safer place where hate crime can’t flourish through community led activity.
CVA wants to highlight that there is more than one way to report a hate crime. Often, people resist getting the police involved. However, hate crimes can be reported to the council, CVA directly or anonymously over the phone.
A number of examples have already surfaced such as the young Afghani men who routinely face racist and anti Islamic abuse being shouted at them in broad daylight as they walk to the mosque in London Road.
There have even been incidents where cars have intentionally driven fast towards them. Sadly the group have given up reporting it to their Imam because it has become so routine.
CVA is now working with the group to come up with practical solutions to make them feel safer and more aware of how they can report these incidents.
Last year following the attack on a 17-year-old refugee Reker Ahmed in Shirley, the council in conjunction with CVA held an event, entitled ‘We Stand Together’.
Representatives from communities across the borough stood together to send out the clear message – ‘hate crime will not be tolerated in Croydon.’
CVA is also working with older people on a project around intimidation and tackling homophia during school time.
Lenses of Croydon is leading on a project which aims to tackle sexually related hate crime by identifying unsafe places where either an incident has or could happen. Local women have been encouraged to take photographs of public spaces which feel intimidating. Once these hotspots have been identified CVA along with the community, can feedback options to the council to make these spaces safer.
This might be through improved lighting, CCTV, more police patrols or street art.
Throughout the project CVA will be highlighting what it finds and feeding back to key agencies holding them to account and coming up with solutions to stop the race hate happening.
Priya said : ”The project is about how we can work with the community to grow peoples awareness. When race hat is not challenged it can escalate. It’s about getting people to report and trust.
“The reasons why people don’t report are two fold they don’t necessarily know what hate crime is and they don’t have faith action will be taken.”
Crimestoppers 0800 555 111