The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Disproportionate Harm
Hate Crime in Canada

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3.1 Hate Crimes in Other Jurisdictions

As noted in the introduction, the phenomenon of hate crime is truly universal. Although a complete international survey is beyond the scope of this report, some data from the United States and the United Kingdom are presented to give the reader an idea of the extent and nature of the problem in those jurisdictions. These countries have been selected because they most closely resemble the Canadian context (in terms of legal culture and socio-cultural history) as well as because they are the jurisdictions with the most reliable crime statistics relating to hate motivation.

3.1.1 United States (See Federal Bureau of Investigation, 1992, for more information about hate crime statistics from different American states.)

According to the 1990 Hate Crime Statistics Act (to be described in greater detail later in this report), the federal Attorney General is mandated to acquire hate crime statistics. Since that year, these statistics have been available from the United States Federal Department of Justice.

Table 1 provides a breakdown of hate crimes recorded by police across the United States in 1992. These data are drawn from law enforcement agencies in over 40 states. These participating agencies covered slightly over half the United States population (all data tables can be found in Appendix A of this report). As can be seen, the most frequent offence category of hate crime is threats, accounting for over one-third of all recorded incidents. This is followed by mischief/vandalism (23 percent of incidents) and simple assault (20 percent). Personal injury offences account for over one-third of incidents. In total, almost 9,000 incidents were recorded by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the most recent year for which data are available at the time of writing.

Table 2 presents a classification of the hate crimes in the United States broken down according to the nature of the group targeted, from which it can be seen that the most frequent targets -- accounting for almost two-thirds of the incidents -- were racial minorities. The three other target categories (ethnic groups, religious groups and certain sexual orientation) each account for approximately the same percentage of incidents (between 10 and 15 percent). Within these categories, the following trends emerged. The most frequent racial category victimized was Black Americans, accounting for 59 percent of incidents. White American victims accounted for slightly less than half all the incidents in this category. Hispanic victims accounted for the majority of incidents in the ethnicity category, while anti-semitic incidents accounted for the vast majority (88 percent) of incidents in the religion category. Almost three- quarters (72 percent) of the sexual orientation category were crimes against gay persons.

These data should not be interpreted as firm indicators of the relative incidence of different forms of hate crime. Rather, they presumably reflect both the actual incidence of such crimes as well as the likelihood that victims will report to the police. If some victims such as members of the gay and lesbian community (and as noted earlier, research suggests that this is in fact the case) are less likely to report than other victims, then the pattern of relative frequency revealed by this table is going to be distorted.

Table 3 provides a similar breakdown of hate crimes by target category in a major metropolitan centre which has collected hate crime statistics for some time (New York City). As can be seen in this table, the pattern is fairly similar to that found at the national level. Table 4 gives a breakdown of hate crime target categories in New York city. This table shows that there is a clear relationship between the nature of the group targeted, and the offence committed. Hate crimes directed against individuals on the basis of their race, ethnicity or sexual orientation are more likely to be crimes against the person (e.g., assault). Thus over 40 percent of hate crimes against these three target groups were crimes of assault. By contrast, only six percent of hate crimes directed against religious targets were crimes of physical violence. The most likely category of hate crime involving a religious target was mischief, which accounted for over half the incidents recorded.

3.1.2 United Kingdom

The data from the United Kingdom are of particular interest because they derive from two sources: a victimization survey and criminal incidents recorded by the police. Thus they include reported as well as unreported incidents. It is important to reiterate that the general term "hate crime" is not used in England and Wales <Scotland has a separate criminal justice system.>; the data pertain only to racially-motivated crime. British Crime Survey (BCS)

The victimization survey data come from the latest administration of the British Crime Survey. This is a large survey of a nationally representative sample of approximately 10,000 adults in England and Wales which has been carried out repeatedly since 1982. It includes victimizations that occurred in the 12 months preceding the survey, whether they were reported to the police or not (see Mayhew, Maung and Mirrlees-Black, 1993, for further information on the BCS). Members of ethnic minorities were asked whether or not they thought that an incident had been racially motivated. Table 5 provides estimates of the numbers of incidents that respondents perceived to be racially motivated. Ranges are provided rather than specific numbers. As can be seen, the BCS data suggest that over 100,000 racially motivated crimes occurred in the year covered by the survey. If a broader definition of hate crime had been used, one which included crimes such as anti- semitic incidents, the totals would obviously have been higher still.

Table 6 provides a breakdown of the proportion of incidents reported to the BCS survey for two minority groups: Afro- Caribbean and Asian. As can be seen, high percentages of certain crimes against these groups were perceived by the survey respondents to have been racially motivated. For example, over half the threats directed at Asian respondents were perceived by the victim to have been racially motivated. Almost half the incidents of assault against Asians, and almost half the incidents of assault against Afro-Caribbeans were racially-motivated (see Maung and Mirrlees-Black, 1994, for further information).

By comparing the BCS data to the number of racially- motivated crimes reported to the police, we can see shed light on the reporting rate of incidents of this crime. Fitzgerald (1995) reports the number of racial incidents reported to the police in England and Wales over the period 1988 to 1992. <13 See Fitzgerald (1995) for discussion of differences between the increase in racially motivated crimes in official statistics versus victimization surveys.> It is clear that the number of racial incidents reported to the police in 1992 is a small fraction of the number of incidents captured by the British Crime Survey (7,734).

3.2 Canada

3.2.1 Hate Crime Statistics Recorded by the Police

The collection of hate crime statistics by different police services across Canada is sufficiently variable to preclude an integrated analysis. Accordingly, statistics from those forces that participated in this survey and who provided data to the Department of Justice Canada will be summarized and discussed on an individual basis. At the conclusion of this section some summary statements will be made. It should be noted that the police forces represented here are those that responded with empirical data, although these data were not always in the form that permitted detailed secondary analysis. Some forces have not yet commenced the collection of hate crime data. The Ontario Provincial Police, for example, do not collect hate crime statistics, and there are no provisions for the collection of such data in the near future. The reason for this appears to be recognition that hate crime is largely an urban problem in Canada. The discussion that follows reflects the information submitted to the Department of Justice Canada. The reader should be aware that other forces may well have similar hate crime units, although this was not made known to the Department at the time that this survey was conducted. Appendix D contains a list of contact persons for the Hate Crime Units in the organizations contacted for this project.

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