Perception of Hate Crime: The Enduring Difficulty of the Law as Agent of Social Change.

Mcguire, Kim orcid iconORCID: 0000-0003-2713-8846 (2014) Perception of Hate Crime: The Enduring Difficulty of the Law as Agent of Social Change. Contemporary Issues In Law, 13 (1). pp. 19-33. ISSN 1357-0374

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This article considers the law in action with regard to ‘hate crime’. In particular it analyses the role of ‘perception’ in recognising, defining and prosecuting hate crime, with specific examples from UK and EU case law, and the results of qualitative semi-structured interviews from the legal profession and victim advocates. It moves from description of UK and EU legislation dealing with ‘hate crime’ into discussion of perceptions of motivation and hostility, the purpose of prosecution, and how these relate to interpretations in action. It considers the various theoretical approaches to legislation and sentencing and the type of ‘evidence’ deemed sufficient to enable prosecution for ‘hate crime, and reveals how these interact in context. The conclusion reveals an unacknowledged over-reliance on the presumption of determining motivation and inner thoughts from behaviour, either at the time of the offence, or from previous actions. Moreover, that there is a failure to recognise our own potential bias. It is argued that such assumptions and weaknesses can both under and over attribute potential bias, and so fail to achieve the aims of Articles 1, 10, 21 and 47 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. To engage with combating bias the need for more awareness raising for victims, offenders, judiciary, and the police, is highlighted.

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