More than a third of hate crime victims know the people who are abusing them, a study has found.
Nearly 1,500 victims took part in a two-year study on hate crime and its impact and 34% knew their abuser as an acquaintance, a neighbour, a friend, a work colleague, a family member or a carer.
University of Leicester researchers described this as a “huge shock to us” as many people would think the threat may come from a stranger.
Disabled people being tipped from wheelchairs, human excrement being posted through letterboxes at homes and guide dogs being attacked in the street were among the harrowing crimes. Many victims said their experience had made them feel unsafe to step out of their front doors.
Researchers found that 87% of victims said they had suffered verbal abuse, 38% said this had been a routine occurrence while 24% went on to report it to the police.
Dr Neil Chakraborti, the project’s principal investigator, said: “Local authorities and police forces have worked hard to raise awareness of hate crime and of support mechanisms in place.
“However, we found that many of the 4,000 community members we engaged with had never even heard of the term ‘hate crime’.
“Service providers must do more to treat victims with empathy, patience and humanity, to make reporting procedures more accessible, and to support victims from all sections of society.”
Jon Garland, a co-investigator on the project, believes there is a need to make sure that victims of hate crime are “treated appropriately and with care” by agencies that should be there to help them.
The project has produced a victims’ manifesto, featuring 10 key steps that can be taken to improve the support given to victims.
It is based on the views and wishes of the victims who took part in the study.