Probation Board for Northern Ireland Hate Crime handout


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.


“PBNI is committed to tackling hate crime in all its forms and has been working with partners to tackle this issue over the last 10 years. We help the people we work with to think about their tomorrow, making our communities safer for everyone.” CEO Cheryl Lamont CBE


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.


“We believe that staff who are ‘culturally competent’ will produce better outcomes for communities, by being more aware of differences, and being enabled to address inequality and work with those in society who are disaffected and marginalised. Director of Rehabilitation Dr Geraldine O’Hare

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.


“We work with voluntary and community groups in Northern Ireland who support individuals who have been victims of hate crime to increase awareness of the Victim Information Schemes and how they can engage with us.” Roisin Leckey Manager PBNI Victim Information Unit

“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.


“Some have very dysfunctional lives. In my experience, it’s the combination of PBNI interventions, supervision and community service that helps them begin the journey of taking personal responsibility for their behaviour and the consequences of that behaviour.” Probation Officer Terry McLaughlin

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.


“PBNI’s ’Accepting Differences’ programme helps people who have committed a hate crime identify how their thoughts contribute to their behaviour which can be harmful for themselves, their social network, their victims and the wider community.” Assistant Director Programmes & Interventions Nigel Hill

“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.”


“Any incident which constitutes a criminal offence perceived by the victim or any person, to be motivated by prejudice or hate towards a person’s race, religion, sexual orientation or disability”. PBNI’s Hate Crime Policy uses the definition of hate crime adapted from the MacPherson report, arising from the murder of Stephen Lawrence in London in 1993.

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.


“Through evidenced based research PBNI has plans to update our Hate Crime training with more diversity awareness and a better understanding of hate crime motivations, as well as including on-line hate crime within our toolkit.” PBNI Psychologist Hate Crime Lead Stephen Caldwell

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.