2 MINUTES WITH COUNCILLOR NELSON, LIB DEM REPRESENTATIVE FOR ROTHERITHE

2 MINUTES WITH COUNCILLOR NELSON, LIB DEM REPRESENTATIVE FOR ROTHERITHE

As part of the 99% Campaign’s goal to publicise the issue of hate crime, we asked Councillor Wilma Nelson, Liberal Democrats representative for Rotherithe to talk to us about her thoughts on the topic. In speaking with our 99% Campaigners, she offered her views on why hate crime exists and the negative consequences of not speaking up against it. As a previous victim of hate crime and an advocate of positive community relations in London, her words inspired a group of 16 – 25 year old participants who attended IARS’ hate crime workshop at Salmon Youth Centre in Bermondsey on Monday 9th September.  The most important message she delivered was not to accept any form of verbal or physical abuse on the ground’s of prejudice and discrimination; to use your VOICE and say NO to hate crime! Listen to what else she had to say...
Challenging Hate Crime: The Only Way To End It!

Challenging Hate Crime: The Only Way To End It!

When you hear the term ‘hate crime’, one of the main words that instantly comes to mind is discrimination. Hate crime and discrimination are both defined in the same way, but hate crime is an a offence against unjust or prejudicial treatment towards different categories of people on the grounds of race, religion, age, disabilities or sexual orientation. The majority of those targeted by hate crime usually suffer in silence due to fears of further physical or verbal abuse by their offenders. Hate crime is an abuse that can be committed against a person or property. A victim does not have to be a member of the group at which the hostility is targeted. In fact, anyone could be a victim of a hate crime. On Monday the 9th of September, as a 99% Campaigner I participated in a workshop set up by IARS to raise awareness about the issue of hate crime. At first we were presented to by two lifelong campaigners, Councillor Wilma Nelson, the Liberal Democrat Council Ward Rotherhithe, and Richard Walker, Chair of Speaking up Southwark. They both spoke about their experiences when suffering from hate crime and how they managed to rise against it.  Councillor Nelson had suffered from racial discrimination when she was first relocated to a new area as the only black person in the area. She spoke about how she had to deal with people from different ages calling her names and vandalising her home. Once she reported it to the police, the response she received was shocking. The police officer suggested that she moved from the area as she would...
Benefit scrounger. Benefit cheat. Sponging off the state. Being a drain on the hardworking taxpayer

Benefit scrounger. Benefit cheat. Sponging off the state. Being a drain on the hardworking taxpayer

In recent times of austerity, people with disabilities have suffered more than just a slash to their benefits. Though hate crime has long been a major issue for minority groups, the last few years has seen a surge in negative  portrayals of disabled people, propagated by the mainstream media. Despite figures of public spending on Disability Living Allowance (DLA), Incapacity Benefit, and Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) in 2011-12 accounting for just 7.9%, 3.1% and 2.2% of welfare spending, respectively, members of these groups have quickly become vilified as workshy or lazy, and guilty of exaggerating their conditions to get out of doing a hard day’s work. Now it is not just because a person is disabled that they may find themselves a victim to hate crime; sometimes they are not disabled enough. Benefit scrounger. Benefit cheat. Sponging off the state. Being a drain on the hardworking taxpayer. These accusations creep onto as many newspaper pages as do Sudoku puzzles, and when you consider the current unemployment rate of 2.4 million, shortages in affordable housing and the cost of living steadily rising, it is little wonder that readers have become frustrated. As a nation, we are struggling to make ends meet; presenting the public with images of seemingly able-bodied individuals, alongside often exaggerated lists of the possible benefits they may have been receiving, only serves to divide impoverished communities, and in turn incite hatred. Last year, government figures showed that 1 in 5 ESA claimants who were found fit for work by Atos later won their appeals – that’s a staggering 150,500 people living with a disability in the...
How to Tackle Hate Crime – More Punitive Measures or More Education?

How to Tackle Hate Crime – More Punitive Measures or More Education?

Very recently I had the privilege of taking part in IARS’ hate crime workshop with many other young people in the UK. The workshop was designed for young people to be influential in government policy-making by adding their voice to the Law Commission’s policy consultation on whether hate crime laws should protect more groups from physical and verbal abuse. Through our input we would be making a change to the state of our communities to help prevent crimes motivated by prejudice that result in violence. The workshop was held at the Salmon Youth Centre in Bermondsey with guest appearances from Councillor Wilma Nelson, Liberal Democrat party representative for Rotherhithe and Richard Walker, the chair of Speaking Up Southwark, an advocacy group for people with disabilities. They both shared their inspirational experiences of confronting hate crime here in the UK. During the workshop we discussed punitive measures in regards to hate crime and spoke about Enhanced sentencing, (higher sentencing for a particular crime). Currently the sentencing for hate crimes are as follows: Aggravated offences such as aggravated criminal damage have a maximum penalty of 14 years in comparison to a basic offence maximum penalty of 10 years. Our workshop discussions led me to discover what changes would be happening in the near future. I found out about the ‘Challenge it, Stop it, Report it: The government’s plan to tackle hate crime‘ which is the action plan the government have set up to tackle hate crime with proposed solutions and preventions. Part of this plan has encouraged the Home Office to publish the findings of the British Crime Survey. Those findings contributed...
How can we tackle hate crime?

How can we tackle hate crime?

Britain today is a multicultural society with people from all backgrounds living side by side; however when tensions rise we see multiple news stories displaying crimes motivated by prejudice towards race, religion, sexuality and disability. Fortunately I have never been the victim of hate crime but know what it feels like to be targeted and singled out because you are different, whether that be because of race or religion. There is a thin line between these kinds of crimes and harassment, even though most are not reported at all. A recent crime survey shows there were at least 260,000 hate crimes in the UK – this is six times the amount reported to the police. According to the legal definition hate crime is defined as:  “Any criminal offence which is perceived, by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by hostility or prejudice based on a person’s religion, race, sexual orientation, disability or transgender identity”. What is important to recognise is that while this definition includes a number of groups vulnerable to hate crime law, the punishment for each category is often applied unequally. For example, hate crimes committed against racial and religious groups can result in a maximum sentence of 7 years for the perpetrator; while sentencing for hate crimes based on someone’s sexual orientation, disability or transgender identity has a maximum sentence of 5 years only. It was at IARS’ workshop that I was able to learn more about the topic of hate crime. This workshop took place last Monday, 9th September and was a fantastic opportunity for young people to voice their opinions to...