During Hate Crime Awareness Week, 10 – 17 October 2020, we are working closely with partners to raise awareness of the work we do to address all forms of Hate Crime within our organisation and wider society, to make our communities safer.
In 2013 PBNI set up a Hate Crime Delivery Group, which informed the development of a new intervention to tackle hate crime and a Hate Crime Policy. The Policy and supporting procedures and interventions provide staff with clear guidance in dealing with the people who commit such offences, as well as victims and potential victims.
Probation Officers are qualified social workers and building on the foundation of creating awareness of cultural diversity PBNI is delivering cultural competency training to assist staff to work in an increasingly diverse society. Understanding, valuing and managing diversity is critical in building and developing the capacity of the workforce, to provide responsive and effective services.
Many of the approaches and responses to hate crime focus on awareness raising, identifying and supporting victims to report incidents and crimes, and on reducing tolerance of abuse. This approach is utilised in our Victim Information Scheme, which began in 2005, where our staff work with victims and families, facilitating and delivering some very sensitive and difficult interventions with those who have caused them harm. The Victim Information Scheme offers a service to all victims of crime where the perpetrator in their case has been sentenced to any disposal supervised by PBNI or a custodial sentence of six months or longer.
“One victim of a Hate Crime said ‘It was helpful being kept up to date on the offender and helped ease my fear,’ “ explained Roisin Leckey Manager PBNI Victim Information Unit. “We invite victims of hate crime to contact us on 0300 1233269 and register with us.’’
As part of PBNI’s ‘Restorative Justice’ approach, every individual who has offended is assessed by Probation Officers using a thorough and rigorous standardised structured tool called ACE – this stands for Assessment, Case Management and Evaluation. ACE helps our specialist staff assess the likelihood of the individual reoffending within the next two years, and it also identifies and helps to manage the level of risk. Probation Officers identify and score factors in three different areas; personal, social and offending, and this informs the pathway for each individual’s journey towards rehabilitation. It is also at this stage that Probation Officers can identify certain discriminatory behaviours and attitudes that will need to be addressed through tailoring PBNI’s restorative justice programmes and interventions to suit each individual.
Probation Officer Terry McLaughlin works directly with individuals who have offended and sees how PBNI can make a difference. “Some of the people with work with have very dysfunctional lives,” said Terry.
PBNI’S intervention ‘Accepting Differences’ specifically addresses offending that is motivated by bias and prejudice, providing staff with the knowledge base, skills and tools they need. The intervention is designed to assist PBNI, and those under supervision, to identify and address ‘hate’ motivations for crime, for example, where victims of crimes are targeted due to their ethnic or cultural background. ‘Accepting Differences’ is delivered to those offenders who have been convicted of a hate crime, or whose offences are suspected to have been motivated or aggravated by prejudiced thinking.
“Over a 14 week period our staff work with the individual using a range of approaches and methods to assist and guide discussions, shaping the programme to address factors including identity and culture, prompting personal exploration on relationships, offending behaviour and attitudes,” said Assistant Director Programmes & Interventions Nigel Hill.
PBNI also works closely with partner NIACRO, referring anyone who has completed the ‘Accepting Differences’ Intervention on to their Get Real Project. Get Real takes people who have offended on a journey from an initial one to one intervention to a group setting, finishing with diversity awareness training.
“One of the individuals I supervise told me that they found the NIACRO Get Real project helpful because Mark made it easy to talk about. They said they found it easier to talk about it with just one person as opposed to a group situation. They felt they could open up more,” explained a PBNI Probation Officer based in Magherafelt. “I found that the NIACRO programme addressed the core attitudes of the individual – it delved deeper into the beliefs supporting hate crime.”
Get Real, supported by the European Union’s Peace IV programme and managed by the Special EU Programmes Body, seeks to challenge hate crime using restorative practice principles and approaches.
This is through three separate yet connecting Strands:
- Strand 1- Get Real about Justice: restorative practice interventions with those who have offended and victims of hate crime or hate incidents
- Strand 2- Get Real about Identity: an 8-week OCN level two training programme ‘Using Restorative Processes to Challenge Hate Crime’
- Strand 3- Get Real about Society: cultural awareness and hate crime training delivered to criminal justice agencies across Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
Alongside developments and work on hate crime, PBNI celebrates Community Relations Week and in the past has organised annual Community /Good Relations events, inviting speakers from the Roma and Travellers communities for example, to promote awareness and foster better relationships with the different equality groupings. As part of these events, individuals from different ethnic backgrounds, who have experienced bias and prejudice, met with PBNI staff to share their experiences of living in NI, and also their own experience of hate incidents.