A consultation has been launched into how to tackle hate-crime in the capital city.
The Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime seeks the views of Londoners and organisations, aiming to increase the confidence of communities to report hate crimes to police.
The initiative is also intended to better support victims and ensure more effective enforcement against those who perpetrate hate crimes.
Dealing with hate crime has been made a priority by the Mayor of London Boris Johnson, who has pledged to develop a new strategy, and will work with partners including the Metropolitan Police Services, the Crown Prosecution Service and the Ministry of Justice.
Voluntary and community organisations across London will also be consulted.
The consultation will allow Londoners the chance to inform the strategy ahead of the new document’s launch in August this year.
The strategy will cover crimes perceived by the victim or another person as being motivated by a hostility or prejudice based on a personal characteristic including race, religion, sexual orientation and disability. Hate crime can include verbal abuse, physical assault, domestic abuse, harassment and damage to property.
The Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, Stephen Greenhalgh, said: “London is one of the most diverse cities in the world, which is a real cause for celebration and a key factor in its economic and cultural success, but we also want it to be the greatest and safest big city. Levels of hate crime are too high and there is significant under-reporting. Working with key organisations such as the Metropolitan Police, the Mayor and I are committed to improving the city’s approach to tackling hate crime and we are seeking wider views to help us do this. London is a city where we should be free to live our lives how we choose, but not free to hate.”
Commander Mak Chishty, MPS lead for hate crime, said: “The Metropolitan Police Service is committed to tackling hate crime in all its forms. We have long since recognised the impact of hate crime on communities and the hidden nature of this crime, which remains largely under reported. We are always seeking ways to increase reporting and the consultation, launched today, will help us to better understand how we can improve confidence amongst victims and shape the services we provide.”
Crime figures running from 12 months to May 2014 show reports of homophobic offences increased by 7%. The office notes that a range of factors may be the cause for the increase, including a greater willingness to report crime by victims.