Tackling harassment of disabled people can often be a difficult task, with people often unsure how to pursue it. Sunderland City Council’s leader Paul Watson (Lab), pictured, explains their new ARCH system, designed to support people in reporting hate crime.
‘Hidden in plain sight’, the recently published report into disability related harassment by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, found that disabled people often do not report harassment for a number of reasons.
This may be because they find it unclear who to report to or they may fear the consequences of reporting. However, when problems go un-reported, it makes it harder for partner agencies to both understand, and tackle the problem.
People in Sunderland are now able to report disability hate incidents to ARCH where they will be believed, taken seriously and offered the most appropriate support.
ARCH was first launched in Sunderland in 2007 for the reporting of racist incidents. In 2010 ARCH began taking reports of religious, homophobic and transphobic incidents; with disability hate incidents being able to be reported from November 2011.
ARCH is a network of agencies working together to combat hate crime. Over 20 partner agencies from across the statutory, voluntary and community sector are now part of the ARCH Partnership. These agencies act as reporting centres, referral agencies or both.
The main aims of ARCH are to:
- increase the number of hate incidents reported;
- provide better and more coordinated support for victims;
- tackle the perpetrators of hate incidents; and
- ultimately reduce the number of hate incidents in Sunderland.
Victims or witnesses of hate incidents have a number of options when reporting an incident to ARCH. People can report it anonymously if they do not want to leave their contact details, or if they need support they can leave their name in confidence.
Residents can report hate incidents confidentially, day or night, by calling freephone 08000 778 378 or by emailing: email@example.com.
They can also report an incident in person by visiting one of our reporting centres (see the full list at: www.sunderland-arch.org.uk).
ARCH is a web based recording and monitoring system and was designed and developed by Newcastle City Council. We have now created a Tyne and Wear network, with all 5 local authorities (Sunderland, Newcastle, Gateshead, North Tyneside and South Tyneside) using the ARCH system to monitor hate incidents and community tensions in their local areas.
ARCH records the incident details and then the victim decides where they would like to be referred to for support, and if they would like some action taken against the perpetrator.
Since ARCH was launched, there has been an increase in reporting (particularly through non-police routes) year on year. However, under-reporting of hate incidents still needs tackling. There are a number of reasons why people do not report harassment and these include among others: not knowing what a hate incident is; what happens once it is reported; or what support is available. It is a long term process to increase the confidence of communities to report hate incidents including those that they have witnessed.
As well as helping to support victims and taking action on perpetrators, ARCH collates statistics about hate crime. This enable a more accurate picture of the extent of hate incidents in the city and provide a baseline from which to work with. Trends and patterns can be analysed and compared with other data coming through different intelligence sources to see if peaks or troughs of incidents are symptomatic of wider community problems. These statistics are a valuable tool for monitoring tensions in Sunderland, enabling the sharing of particular community intelligence information with partner agencies and therefore allowing them to be more proactive in identifying tension hotspots.
Councillor Paul Watson (Lab), leader of Sunderland City Council
Anyone wanting to learn more about Sunderland’s Arch system should contact Lee Brown at Sunderland City Council. Lee.Brown@sunderland.gov.uk
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Case Studies of ARCH in action
A hate incident can take place anywhere and when it is reported to ARCH support can be provided and action can be taken against the offender. Here are a couple of examples:
- At the victim’s home.
- Local young people have been throwing stones and mud at the victim’s window nearly every day. The victim has a disability. One day the young people banged on the door and verbally abused the victim - the abuse was referring to the victim’s disability.
What have ARCH and partner organisations done?
- The victim contacted the police and asked for the officer from the neighbourhood police team to get in touch with her. The case has been recorded on ARCH. A referral has been made to Safer Homes which carried out a home security check at the victim’s home, fitted home security measures and gave home security advice. A victim pack has been sent to the victim in case they would like to get additional support from other partner agencies. In the meantime the police are carrying out an investigation to identify the perpetrators.
- On public transport.
- The victim with a speech impediment was on the bus. Two teenage males made fun of her and were verbally abusive, referring to her speech impediment. The victim didn’t know the young people and they got off the bus at the next stop.
What have ARCH and partner organisations done?
- The victim reported the incident to ARCH. She was referred to Victim Support as she was upset by what happened.
- Thanks to people reporting hate incidents that take place, ARCH now knows where there are hate incidents taking pace on public transport (buses, bus stop/ stations, metro, trains, etc). As a result ARCH representatives across the Tyne and Wear area met with Nexus and other transport providers to discuss issues of hate incidents. They are now pulling together an action plan around dealing with hate incidents on public transport across the whole region which will include training staff and better use of CCTV recordings.