Law writing assignment

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Once you have read the article, write 300-400 words on the following questions:

1. What aspect of common law is addressed in the article you chose?  What is the main theme of your article? Discuss.

2. What are three ideas the author presents that support the main theme of the article?

3. Common law evolves and changes.  How is that change reflected in the article you read?  Discuss.

Please cite according to APA.  If you are quoting directly, use quotation marks.  If paraphrasing, still cite the source!


British Journal of Community Justice
©2020 Manchester Metropolitan University

ISSN 1475-0279
Vol. 16(1) 82–102


W. Laverick, University of Hull, and N. P. Joyce, University of Glyndŵr

This paper considers the motivation and function of the UK’s hate-crime framework,
offering a historically located interpretation. It discusses the development of legislation to
combat discrimination- and prejudice-motivated harassment and offending before
examining recent assessments of the UK’s approach. It then provides a cursory examination
of the historical context in which the UK’s legislative and policy developments emerged.
After exposing the limitations of the current UK response and framing this in a wider
domestic and international context, the paper concludes by arguing that the UK’s evolving
hate-crime policy framework currently remains partial and serves to obfuscate its social
control objectives, along with the political anxieties related to the ideological and political
threats and disorder that underpinned its development. The article concludes by arguing
that the current framework has recently downgraded – and increasingly sidesteps – the
need to address internal manifestations of illiberalism, including institutional
discrimination, workforce representativeness, racial and religious disparity, and equal

Hate crime; illiberalism; political disorder; social disorder

Laverick and Joyce



In 1999, the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) credited the
United Kingdom (UK) for having ‘one of the most advanced institutional frameworks to
combat racism and discrimination’ (ECRI, 1999). Since that time, and following in the wake
of a series of high-profile prejudice-based incidents, the remit of the UK’s framework has
widened, moving beyond an exclusive focus upon race to incorporate an ‘innovative legal
and policy framework applicable to hate crimes’ (UN, 2018a). Indeed, the UK framework
now obliges forces to record data on hate crimes and hate incidents motivated on the basis
of five monitored strands: race, sexual orientation, transgender status, faith and disability
(Laverick and Joyce, 2019). Local partnerships are permitted to extend the focus of their
hate crime policies to address local concerns and crimes motivated by other manifestations
of hostility, such as those related to alternative sub-cultures following the death of Sophie
Lancaster within Greater Manchester (College of Policing, 2014a:7-8) and misogynistic
incidents in Nottinghamshire (BBC News, 2016:online).

This paper considers the motivation and function of the UK’s hate crime framework, offering
a historically located interpretation. It discusses the development of legislation to combat
discrimination- and prejudice-motivated harassment and offending before examining
recent assessments of the UK’s approach. It then provides a cursory examination of the
historical context in which the UK’s legislative and policy developments emerged. After
exposing the limitations of the current UK response and framing this in a wider domestic
and international context, the paper concludes by arguing that the UK’s evolving hate crime
policy framework currently remains partial and serves to obfuscate its social control
objectives, along with the political anxieties related to the ideological and political threats
and disorder that underpinned its development. This article concludes by arguing that the
current framework has recently downgraded – and increasingly sidesteps – the need to
address internal manifestations of illiberalism, including institutional discrimination,
workforce representativeness, racial and religious disparity and equal opportunities. Whilst
often neglected by hate crime scholarship, it is suggested that action to address structural
and institutional illiberalism, in conjunction with wider economic development strategy and
immigration controls, can function to serve the primary goal of maintaining social control
and order. It is suggested that uncoupling the former components of this strategy from
current hate crime and vulnerability frameworks directs attention away from the roots of
this legislative and policy framework, and will ultimately fail to alleviate the structural
conditions conducive to prejudice-based violence.

Hate crime as a priority concern

The UK is generally regarded as having both an ‘advanced institutional framework’ (ECRI,
1999:7) and ‘generally strong legislation’ (ECRI, 2016:9) to combat racism and
discrimination. The 1965 Race Relations Act is widely regarded as the first piece of
legislation in the UK to address the prohibition of racial discrimination (Hindell, 1965).
Nevertheless, racist threats and intimidation have persisted across the UK, prompting
further efforts to counter incitement to racial hatred, particularly through Part III of the
Public Order Act 1986, which was largely presented as action to protect ethnic minorities
from racist abuse and intimidation (Hansard, 1985).

Reinterpreting the UK approach to hate crime


In 1999, the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry recognised the need for the police service to ‘deliver
a service which recognises the different experiences, perceptions and needs of a diverse
society’ (College of Policing, 2014a:1). Described as a watershed in race relations, the
Macpherson Inquiry Report on the police investigation into the murder of black teenager
Stephen Lawrence in 1993 drew together 70 recommendations, many of which provided a
set of general principles that should be applied to a broader range of hate crimes than that
of racial harassment. As noted by McGhee (2007:213), such measures became part of a
growing number of ‘hate crime’ provisions that were introduced in England and Wales to
address racial discrimination, racially motivated victimisation and racially or religiously
aggravated offending. This included the Football Offences Act 1991 (racialist chanting), the
Crime and Disorder Act 1998, the Criminal Courts Sentencing Act 2000, the Race Relations
Amendment Act 2000 and the Anti-Terrorism Crime and Security Act 2001. As argued by
Asquith (2012:147), such legislative developments resulted in ‘multiple-service
enhancements to victims, along with a comprehensive re-organisation of policing
organisations’ standard operating procedures and reporting techniques’. This was
accompanied by government efforts to measure and monitor the frequency and extent of
victimisation, and to provide equal opportunities and workforce representativeness within
the police service and across criminal justice and civil service institutions (Laverick and
Joyce, 2019). Moreover, as noted by Smithson et al. (2011), the 2002 amendment of the
Race Relations Act served to extend the focus beyond race and religion, placing a statutory
duty upon agencies to impact-assess all of their policies to prevent race, gender and
disability discrimination. In 2010, the Equality Act came into force, providing a single legal
framework to tackle disadvantage and discrimination, and extending protection on the
basis of a range of protected characteristics.

Despite this flurry of legislative action, it remains the case that within the UK there is
presently no single piece of legislation that criminalises hate crime. Nevertheless, legislation
currently gives prosecutors two options when applying for an increase in sentence for those
who are convicted of a hate crime. Thus, the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 provides for a
higher maximum penalty for offences considered to be racially or religiously aggravated,
and the Criminal Justice Act 2003 provides for enhanced sentencing for offenders
considered to be aggravated by one or more of five protected characteristics (Her Majesty’s
Inspectorate of Constabularies and Fire and Rescue Services, 2018a; 2018b:9-10). As noted
by the UN, in addition to a number of domestic laws that apply directly to racial equality,
the UK has adopted an ‘innovative legal and policy framework applicable to hate crimes’
(UN, 2018a). Thus, as detailed by McGhee (2007:214), legislation has been accompanied by
‘a growing anti-hate crime movement’ across the criminal justice system. In 2003, a London-
wide Race Hate Crime Forum was established to promote coordination and cooperation
between key agencies. At the same time, the London Metropolitan Police Service, through
its Strategy Research and Analysis Unit, sought to build an evidence base for specific and
more general forms of hate crime (Asquith, 2012). In 2005, the UK government published
its race and community cohesion strategy – Improving Opportunities, Strengthening Society
– which explicitly referred to the implementation of Britain’s obligations under the
International Convention for the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination. The
document addressed racism and hate crime specifically, pledging to reduce racially
motivated incidents and improve the reporting and recording of racist incidents. In 2005,

Laverick and Joyce


the Home Office Standards Unit and the Association of Chief Police Officers published a
guidance document entitled Hate Crime: Delivering a Quality Service. The document moved
away from an exclusive focus upon racially motivated incidents, obliging forces to record
data on hate incidents motivated on the basis of race, sexual orientation, faith and disability
(Laverick and Joyce, 2019). In 2007, the police, Crown Prosecution Service, Prison Service
and other agencies agreed a common definition of monitored hate crime, covering five
strands, and the police committed to record reported hate crime for the five monitored
strands in 2008 (Her Majesty’s Government, 2012:6). Hate crime against disabled,
homosexual and transgender people featured within the Conservative and Liberal
Democratic Coalition 2010 Programme for Government (Her Majesty’s Government,
2010a). This marked a turn towards the development of a ‘whole communities’ and ‘needs-
based’ approach towards tackling prejudice-related crime (Laverick and Joyce, 2019:299).

Against this proliferation of legislative and policy provision, the Crown Prosecution Service
(2012) reported that under-reporting and under-recording of hate crime remained
prevalent. In an attempt to remedy these concerns, the Coalition government and newly
created College of Policing published a series of action plans, progress reports, strategies
and operational guidance (HM Government, 2012; CJJI, 2013; College of Policing, 2014a,
2014b; CJJI, 2015; Home Office, 2016; 2017; HM Government, 2018; Home Office, 2018a,

An assessment of the UK response

From the summary of legislative and policy developments presented in the previous section,
it is evident that the UK government has invested considerable time and energy in building
public confidence in their action to tackle hate crime. Whilst scholars recognise the
complexity of hate crime, and variations in approaches internationally (see, for example,
Chakraborti and Garland, 2012; 2015; Brax and Munthe, 2015, Chakraborti, 2016; Perry,
2016; Chakraborti and Hardy, 2017), it has been suggested by Laverick (2016) that the UK
has adopted a liberal crime control response to hate crime, which incorporates the rule of
law and institutional reform alongside multi-agency and cooperative action. In particular,
the UK’s strategic response includes the following: actions to create a common definition in
order to generate consistency and improve the effectiveness of the criminal justice system;
emphasising training and guidance to improve the detection, investigation, prosecution and
management of hate-crime cases; and providing legislative and sentencing reforms. Action
has also been taken to strengthen the defence of vulnerable targets and to manage risks in
potential high-risk environments, promoting collaboration to strengthen and enhance
coordination at policy and operational levels (Laverick and Joyce, 2019:325-352).

Although good practice examples of hate crime interventions and third-party reporting
mechanisms are referred to within the College of Policing Operational Guidance (College of
Policing, 2014a) and are made available on the True Vision website (True Vision:online),
academic research has identified a number of failings within existing UK policy-level
responses to hate crime. Whilst a comprehensive overview of the burgeoning hate crime
research literature remains beyond the scope of the present paper and has been
acknowledged in our previous work (Laverick and Joyce, 2019), it is significant to note that
the Government’s Action Plan has been criticised for ‘its failure to outline specific means

Reinterpreting the UK approach to hate crime


through which most of [its] aims will be achieved’ (Waters et al., 2016:9). The Action Plan
has also been challenged for its failure ‘to provide any information on how their
effectiveness or utility will be measured’ and for insufficient or an absence of ‘detail about
when and how… actions will be arranged or whether (and how) their success will be
evaluated’. Thus, it has been argued that ‘action points are so broadly termed as to make
any objective evaluation of their success unmeasurable’ (Walters et al., 2016:9). Other
research has highlighted a continuing ‘failure to dismantle barriers to reporting, a failure to
prioritize engagement with diverse communities and a failure to provide meaningful
criminal justice interventions’, which, it is argued, impacts upon ‘the capacity of hate crime
victims from different identity groups and backgrounds to access appropriate support’,
thereby undermining the credibility and effectiveness of policy-level responses in the eyes
of victims (Chakraborti, 2018:399).

Moreover, recent inspectorate assessments regarding the UK’s approach highlights
continuing public dissatisfaction with the police response. Thus, data from the Crime Survey
for England and Wales from 2012/13 to 2014/15 revealed that victims of hate crime were
still less likely than victims of crime overall to be very or fairly satisfied with the police’s
handling of the matter (Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabularies and Fire and Rescue
Services, 2017:7). This finding was reiterated in a 2017 inspection of police forces’
understandings of and responses to hate crime (Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of
Constabularies and Fire and Rescue Services, 2017:8). Reinforcing the observations of
Chakraborti (2018), two further Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabularies and Fire and
Rescue Services reports raised questions regarding under-reporting and police force
understanding of community needs, with one noting ‘a significant proportion of victims…
do not feel their support needs are recognised or adequately addressed and do not feel
they have access to justice’ (Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabularies and Fire and
Rescue Services, 2018a:4). Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabularies and Fire and
Rescue Services further recognised that whilst police forces ‘understand that it is important
to take hate crime seriously’ and ‘encourage victims to report incidents’, ‘this does not
always translate into a deeper understanding of their communities and how they are being
victimised’ (Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabularies and Fire and Rescue Services,
2018b:4). Moreover, forces were criticised for ‘failing to use the limited information at their
disposal’ and were deemed ‘ill-equipped to assess the nature and extent of online hate
crime’ (Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabularies and Fire and Rescue Services,

Somewhat damningly then, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabularies and Fire and
Rescue Services revealed an inconsistent picture between (and sometimes within) forces
regarding their approach to hate crime, concluding that ‘progress has been too slow’ (Her
Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabularies and Fire and Rescue Services, 2018b:6), with
victims facing ‘a postcode lottery’ when it comes to the response (Her Majesty’s
Inspectorate of Constabularies and Fire and Rescue Services, 2018b:93). Significantly, the
inspection report also directed attention to the recent pressure placed upon forces within
a climate of diminished resources, noting that ‘it is difficult to escape the conclusion that
competing demands are affecting the ability of forces to respond effectively to hate crime’
and reporting a failure to see ‘a uniform commitment by force leaders to treat victims of

Laverick and Joyce


hate crime as a priority’ (Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabularies and Fire and Rescue
Services, 2018b:94). The inspection also reported that there had been ‘a substantial decline
in some of the outcomes of hate crime investigations, including those that result in a charge’
(Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabularies and Fire and Rescue Services, 2018b:94),
reflecting the observations made within a recent report by the Home Affairs Select
Committee, Policing for the Future, that highlighted low investigation rates and a marked
reduction in the number of charges, summons and justice outcomes across the service,
within the contemporary period of austerity (Joyce and Laverick, 2018).

In addition to the effectiveness of the UK’s hate crime framework, the nation’s record on
addressing racial disparities has also recently been called into question. Thus, in 2018, the
UN Special Rapporteur on racism (drawing on the findings of both the UK’s Racial Disparity
Audit and the 2017 Lammy Review) raised concerns over continuing widespread
discrimination and socio-economic inequalities faced by ethnic minorities in the UK (UN,
2018a). The UK government was commended for its law and policies governing racial
equality, along with its ‘innovative legal and policy framework applicable to hate crimes’
(UN, 2018a). Nevertheless, concerns were raised regarding the apparent impact on racial
disparity of UK law and policy addressing immigration, counter-terrorism and criminal
justice. The disproportionate effect of austerity measures upon black and minority ethnic
(BME) communities (and women among them especially), were further areas of concern.
Thus, it was argued that these ‘function inadvertently as a prime instrument of racial
subordination’, thereby ‘exacerbating racial disparities’ (UN, 2018b). The UN Special
Rapporteur observed that ‘the structural socio-economic exclusion of racial and ethnic
communities in the UK is striking’, adding that ‘notwithstanding the racial equality legal
framework… the harsh reality is that race, ethnicity, religion, gender, disability status and
related categories all continue to determine the life chances and well-being in Britain in
ways that are unacceptable, and in many cases unlawful’ (UN, 2018a: section B19). The
Special Rapporteur consequently concluded by stating that the UK government ‘had much
to do’ to address the structural forms of racial discrimination and inequality (UN, 2018a:
section 65).

Political anxiety, social and ideological threat

Careful to acknowledge that no comparisons have been made in relation to the presence of
illiberalism in other countries, and recognising Walters et al.’s (2016:9-10) observation that
‘compared to most other western jurisdictions across the world, the Government’s
continued commitment to delivering an effective hate crime prevention strategy is highly
advanced’, it is possible to conceive the emergence of the UK’s hate crime legislative and
policy framework as evidence of moral progress. However, the apparent ineffectiveness of
the approach, along with the wider issues of continuing widespread discrimination and
inequality across the UK (as highlighted above), gives pause for thought. Indeed, taking the
long view, it is evident that the UK government’s action to tackle racially (and later,
religiously) motivated violence and discrimination may also be interpreted against a
historical background of political resistance and racial, religious and class antagonism.
Whilst this has been addressed more comprehensively elsewhere (Laverick and Joyce,
2019), it is argued below that a cursory overview of the historical, political and economic
context in which the UK’s legislative and policy developments emerged lends support for a

Reinterpreting the UK approach to hate crime


more nuanced interpretation, thereby raising important questions regarding the function
of the current framework and the motivation that underpins it.

Despite its neglect within much hate crime scholarship, it is important to note that UK action
to counter illiberal action originally occurred against a historical context that was
characterised by long-established structures and patterns of hierarchy, inequality,
discrimination and intolerance (Laverick and Joyce, 2019). Thus, evidence suggests that
within Britain, racial and religious prejudice, discrimination and violence dates back to at
least the sixteenth century. Scholars such as Tickner (2014:165) also observe that gender
discrimination occurred from at least the sixteenth century and continued during the early
stages of state formation and the beginnings of capitalism in Europe. Thus, scholars locate
the emergence of racial concepts, religious discrimination and gender discrimination as
inherent within the emergence of the European identity as white and Christian, and as
central to the ordering and administration of Empire and, later, world order (Omi and
Winant, 1994:61; Bunzl, 2007:9; Shilliam, 2017:286-289). Although a detailed examination
of the history of British hostility towards immigrants (including Jewish, black, Asian and Irish
people) remains beyond the scope of the present paper, scholars such as Law and Henfrey
(1981), Visram (2002), Fryer (2010), Evans (2012), Ranasinha (2012) and Olusoga (2016)
locate illiberal practices towards minorities within the background of British capitalism,
plantation slavery and the slave trade, in addition to the European colonialist project and
imperial expansion. Guha (2002:8 cited in Tickner, 2014:166) observes that gender, as well
as race, was important in denoting difference ‘as Europe sought to identify itself against the
otherness of a multitude of races, religions, languages and cultures’.

During the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, racial and religious violence and
discrimination was often compounded by periods of economic strain and unemployment,
revealing concerns about competition for scarce resources, population growth and threats
to social and political order. Challenges were driven by black slaves, the poor white working
classes and their supporters, who increasingly employed liberal ideas of freedom,
democracy and equality in their attempts to secure political and social justice, both within
the UK and abroad (Laverick and Joyce, 2019). Thus, as detailed by Visram (2002), Fryer
(2010) and Olusoga (2016), whilst early progressive humanitarian action was taken within
Britain to provide relief for the black and Asian poor, this was accompanied by repressive
action to expel, restrict and repress such groups (Laverick and Joyce, 2019). It is notable,
therefore, that such developments occurred against a background of political unrest in
Britain. This initially included calls for universal suffrage, parliamentary representation and
reform on the part of black and Asian communities and their white working class
supporters. Such action was also accompanied by labour agitation and political action to
address economic exploitation and welfare conditions across the British Empire and within
British colonies. Thus, the nineteenth century witnessed ‘significant legislative provisions
and repeated efforts to introduce access controls and sanctions to deter further
immigration to Britain, in addition to efforts to expel undesirable, politically inflammatory
and/or destitute Blacks and Asians’ (Laverick and Joyce, 2019:16). Illiberal action towards
African, Asian, Irish, Chinese and Jewish people continued well into the twentieth century;
this included employment and housing discrimination, disturbances and riots in British ports

Laverick and Joyce


and cities, in addition to far right and fascist use of intimidation and violence (Laverick and
Joyce, 2019:22).

Given this history, we argue that an appreciation of the wider historical, political and
economic context, and an awareness of the particular events that prompted the
government to intervene to produce legislation and policy, are important. We suggest that
this is particularly so in relation to recent arguments regarding the apparently contradictory
nature of the current anti-discrimination legislation and policy framework, which, as
pointed out by commentators including the UN Special Rapporteur, coexists with
discriminatory immigration legislation and race relations policies. As will be shown in this
paper, a cursory look at the wider context in which key hate crime legislation and policy
have been produced suggests that there is greater compatibility between immigration and
access control measures and anti-discrimination measures than previously assumed,
especially when framed in the light of the events preceding such action. Thus, whilst not
denying the humanitarian motives of particular social actors (including particular political
parties and individuals) when interpreting the evolution of the UK’s hate crime framework
against the wider social and political environment, it becomes apparent that this context
generated a complex tension between a perceived need to tackle the illiberal social,
structural and institutional conditions underpinning prejudice-based action, and more
pressing social control imperatives that aimed to secure social and political order. Over time
and prompted by a range of specific trigger events, the need to address various forms of
illiberalism (such as inequality, unequal opportunities, discrimination and prejudice)
became seen as a means of securing wider social and political order goals, which were
prioritised within a fluctuating policy framework that was still underpinned by modernist
assumptions that equated social diversity with political and social instability (Laverick,

Political and social disorder and the development of anti-

discrimination measures

When reflecting on the passing of the Public Order Act 1936 (which has been widely
regarded as offering protection against racist abuse and intimidation), it is important to
observe that this legislative action immediately followed the ‘Battle of Cable Street’ in
London’s East End, where more than 30,000 people congregated to prevent the passage of
British Union of Fascists supporters at a demonstration (Roach Family Support Committee,
1989:197). Significantly, the Act made no reference to anti-Semitism and did not ban fascist
organisations outright, serving instead to prevent street disorder from whichever quarter it
emanated. Thus, the ban on political uniforms was as much directed at the Communists
(‘Redshirts’ – not to mention the Social Credit Party, the ‘Greenshirts’) as it was at the
fascists, and fear of uncontrollable public disorder that led to demands for a more
authoritarian government was at the heart of the legislation. Moreover, the Public Order
Act was passed during a particularly tense period of race relations in British history, which
witnessed the proliferation of far right activism. Indeed, as was noted by Lord Elwyn Jones,
the Act was passed to deal with ‘the threat to freedom posed by the Fascist use of
intimidation and violence’ (Elwyn Jones 1985 cited in Laverick and Joyce, 2019:34).
However, the failure to enforce the Act, particularly the provisions relating to the use of
insulting and threatening behaviour, have led some commentators to question the ultimate

Reinterpreting the UK approach to hate crime


goal of the legislation and raise the possibility that the preservation of public order
remained the central consideration (Rosenberg, 1985).

Although there was some variation, extremist right wing groups espoused nationalist, white
supremacist and racist ideology, seeking to end immigration and pursue a policy of
repatriation. They opposed liberal democracy and civil and political liberties, and made
immigrants scapegoats for economic hardships and cultural change. In Britain, fascist use of
intimidation and violence coincided with the passing of immigration laws that created
access control and citizenship restrictions and provided law enforcement agencies with
increased powers of enforcement and surveillance. At the same time, minority communities
were actively highlighting discriminatory treatment and harassment, drawing attention to
the inadequate police response to racial attacks and harassment experienced by minority
communities. In addition, this period witnessed the politicisation of immigration within
parliamentary election campaigns and evidence of racial disparity in employment, housing
and education (Laverick and Joyce, 2019). Consequently, it is noteworthy that the passing
of the 1965 and 1968 race relations legislation (which introduced anti-discrimination laws),
and the 1986 Public Order Act (which has been credited for legislating against incitement to
racial hatred), along with positive action to alleviate racial disadvantage and racial
discrimination and to provide equal opportunities, occurred at a time of increasing political
agitation. These measures also occurred during a period of increasingly aggressive and
confrontational political militancy, with self-defence, direct action and protests on the part
of minority communities generating anxiety about the potential for societal unrest and
racial disturbance. Particular events, such as the 1981 New Cross Fire and social disorders
that occurred in Bristol and Brixton, preceded action to protect minorities from threats,
intimidation and abuse. This was accompanied by action to legislate for public order
offences (placing restrictions on processions and assemblies) and the passing of
immigration laws, which suggests that the maintenance of public order again remained a
central concern for law-makers (Laverick and Joyce, 2019).

Racial attacks, harassment and intimidation, along with the spread of hateful literature,
continued into the 1990s. This prompted the political mobilisation of minority communities,
as evidenced by the creation of the Muslim Council of Britain, the Islamic Human Rights
Commission and the Community Security Trust, resulting in calls for a new offence of racial
violence. This followed an increase in anti-Semitic hatred (associated initially with the 1967
occupation of the West Bank and Gaza in the Six Day War) and anti-Muslim hostility (arising
from the 1979 Iranian Revolution, the 1989 fatwa issued by Ayatollah Khomeini against
Salman Rushdie in connection with his book The Satanic Verses, and the 1991 Gulf War).
Against this international context, and within a diminished economic climate at home, civil
unrest – and particularly the potential for racial and religious disturbance – on British soil
became salient concerns. These concerns were exacerbated by the 1995 Manningham riots
in Bradford and the subsequent disturbances in northern England during 2001. These events
highlighted the intersectionality of race and religion and brought to the fore vigilante action
on the part of minority communities, poor police–community relations, police inaction and
economic disparity. The inquiries prompted by the disturbances resulted in explanations
that stressed the role of community segregation and a lack of social cohesion and
integration in exacerbating community tensions and fuelling resentment, which, it was

Laverick and Joyce


argued, could be capitalised upon by political and ideological extremist groups (Laverick and
Joyce, 2019:177-246).

Scholars have highlighted the influence of multiple actors, often with competing and
contradictory interests when accounting for major historical shifts in values and the
emergence of crime control infrastructure. Thus, Pogge (2008), along with scholars such as
Hardt and Negri (2001) and Andreas and Nadelmann (2006), emphasise relations of power
and introduce more complex interpretations that incorporate economic arguments, the
actions of moral entrepreneurs, and the role of crisis and conflict when explaining agenda-
setting, criminalisation processes and crime control responses. Consequently, whilst a
number of factors have been implicated in providing the impetus for change, including the
Macpherson report, the neo-Nazi nail bombing campaign of David Copeland in 1993, and
efforts by the incoming New Labour government to create a new class of racially aggravated
offences carrying enhanced sentences (Dixon and Gadd, 2006:312 cited in Laverick and
Joyce, 2019:126), we suggest it is also important to remain mindful of the political anxiety
regarding the perceived ongoing threat posed by minority groups to social and political
order, both nationally and internationally.

The interdependency of domestic and national security concerns became further evident
following the second Al-Aqsa in 2000 in the West Bank and Gaza, which became associated
with a rise in racially and religiously motivated hate incidents on British soil – spikes that
were also associated with the 2001 USA-led invasion of Afghanistan and the War on Terror
following the 9/11 attacks and the subsequent 2003 invasion of Iraq. Concerns regarding
immigration, crime and terrorism were compounded by the unfettered access into
European States of eight central and eastern European countries in 2004 arising from EU
expansion, followed by Bulgaria and Romania in 2007, along with the emergence of Islamic
extremism in British society commencing with the 2005 London Bombings. Anti-Semitic and
anti-Muslim hostilities were reportedly further affected by the 2009 conflict in Israel and
Gaza, the 2011 riots and the murder of Lee Rigby in 2013. These events formed the
backdrop for David Cameron’s commitment in 2013, and his subsequent election pledge in
2015, to hold a vote on the EU. Thus, the 2016 referendum campaign followed the end of
the transitional immigration arrangements in 2014, which had served to limit immigration.
These developments brought together national and international security considerations
within a domestic context of austerity, and merged a range of social, political and ideological
threats within media, political and policy rhetoric.

It is interesting to note, therefore, that the Special Rapporteur on racism, referred to earlier
within this paper, directed particular attention to the 2006 Immigration, Asylum and
Nationality Act, the 2014 and 2016 Immigration Acts and the UK government’s Prevent
Programme (aimed at non-violent extremism), which were depicted as part of the
government’s ‘so-called hostile environment policy’ (UN, 2018a: section 1, 26, 33-34 and
38). These measures were described as deputising both immigration enforcement and the
Prevent Duty to a range of frontline agents, contributing to the exclusion of, discrimination
against and subordination of groups on the basis of their race, ethnicity or related status,
which amplified and legitimated anti-Muslim panic. These policies were further regarded as
leading to distrust among BME communities, societal dis-integration and the political, social

Reinterpreting the UK approach to hate crime


and economic exclusion of racial and ethnic minorities, which underpinned the growth of
xenophobic discourse and racial, ethnic and religious intolerance within the UK (UN, 2018a).

An alternative interpretation

The observations detailed above, which highlight continuing failings associated with current
hate crime provisions, together with evidence of continuing racial disparities in Britain,
raised the possibility that the preservation of social order was prioritised over actions to
secure the social and political rights of racial groups and the eradication of discrimination,
harassment and inequality. Whilst not going so far as to suggest evidence of a grand
conspiracy, it is evident that within recent hate crime action plans, equality and diversity
issues, including the promotion of workplace representativeness, equal opportunities and
efforts to remove internal and institutional discrimination, largely fall beyond the remit of
newer efforts to tackle illiberal attitudes and behaviours and fail to address the role of the
state, its representatives and its institutions in fostering the conditions conducive to
illiberalism (Laverick and Joyce, 2019).

Although the apparent relegation and sidelining of equality and diversity issues has been
discussed within the British context as occurring in response to competing priorities within
a context of austerity (see Holdaway, 2015; Laverick and Cain, 2015; Silvestri, 2015),
international political scholars have argued that nationally and internationally, states are
witnessing a liberal crisis in which nationalist and populist groups and authoritarian regimes
are increasingly challenging the organising principles, institutions, norms and values of the
postwar liberal international system, which is organised around openness, rules and
multilateral cooperation, equality, non-discrimination, democracy and human rights
(Ikenberry, 2009; 2019; Nye, 2017; Rose, 2017; 2019; Zakaria, 2019).

Scholars have also recently observed what has been described as an acceleration in the
trend towards the internationalisation of crime control (Slaughter, 2004:266; Deflem,
2011:91-92; Laverick, 2016:86-135). In relation to hate crime specifically, Perry (2016:621),
for example, has described the emergence of ‘a new commitment towards achieving a
congruent approach to understanding and addressing hate crime’ across the EU and
internationally. With this in mind, we suggest that framing the domestic and international
response towards hatred may be usefully contextualised in the light of international
political scholars’ arguments regarding the emergence of liberal crisis. Thus, in response to
the growing evidence of illiberal sentiment and behaviour, the UN Member States
adopted a Declaration at the Summit for Refugees and Migrants in 2016, which strongly
condemned acts and manifestations of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and
related intolerance against refugees and migrants and pledged to ‘take a range of steps to
counter such attitudes and behaviour, in particular with regard to hate crimes, hate
speech and racial violence’ (UN General Assembly, 2016). The following year, the UN
Secretary-General, António Guterres informed journalists that ‘Racism, xenophobia, anti-
Semitism or Islamophobia are… poisoning our societies’ (UN, 2017b:online). This followed
the comments made by the UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, who reminded
governments around the world that they have a legal obligation to stop hate speech and
hate crimes (UN, 2017a:online). More recently, Guterres warned of a ‘disturbing
groundswell of intolerance and hate-based violence,’ identifying the fight against hate

Laverick and Joyce


crime and hate speech as one of his top priorities for 2019 (UN, 2019). In response to this
international climate of intolerance, the UN has reiterated its support of the liberal
approach to crime control, with Yury Fedotov, Executive Director of the United Nations
Office on Drugs and Crime, identifying international collaboration and action to strengthen
‘effective, fair, humane and accountable criminal justice systems’ as the appropriate way
to counter crimes motivated by intolerance or discrimination and to ‘protect people and
their rights’ (UN, 2019).

Drawing upon the work of transnational crime and security scholars and international
political theorists, academics and practitioners addressing the area of hate crime
domestically may find it prudent to heed the advice of Aas (2012) to remain wary of context-
free social theory and responses to global challenges. Wallerstein (2005) similarly advocates
transcending state-centric approaches, encouraging scholars to consider developments
that occur inside states in relation to their position within regional and international
contexts. Thus, for Aas (2012:19), ‘various conceptions and theories of global problems are
intrinsically connected to their proposed political solutions’, to ‘practices of power’ and to
‘various conceptions of order’ (reproduced in Sheptycki, 2015:26). Therefore, addressing
hate crime nationally within the UK requires not only acknowledging its normative and
political functioning as a liberal democratic state, but also giving attention to the UK’s place
within the contemporary international liberal order of the society of states – which, as
suggested above, may currently be experiencing a period of liberal crisis and political and
ideological challenge.

Given the recent proliferation of interest in hate crime internationally, it is important to
note that at an international level, there remains an explicit recognition of the association
between structural and institutional manifestations of illiberalism and illiberal outcomes.
Thus, discrimination, non-discrimination, non-hate incidents, extremism and hate crimes
may be conceived as part of a wider spectrum of illiberalism that has the potential to
underpin more extreme forms. Such examples of illiberalism have been implicated in the
commission of terrorism and atrocity crimes, including genocide. Thus, genocide is
conceived as ‘an extreme form of identity-based crime’, where discrimination based on
national, ethnical, racial or religious differences and persistent patterns of it ‘establish
divisions within society which serve as both a material cause and a perceived justification
of group violence’ (UN, 2014:10-21). Similarly, socio-economic marginalisation,
discrimination and political exclusion, along with a lack of good governance, are explicitly
recognised as facilitating factors for terrorism within the UN Global Security Strategy
(Laverick, 2016:209). The UN is therefore clear on the association between social and
economic illiberalism, and illiberalism in the form of violence: particularly genocide and
crimes against humanity, including terrorism.

It is argued that action to prevent atrocity crimes requires sustained efforts on the part of
individual states to ensure that the rule of law is respected and that all human rights are
protected, without discrimination, whilst recognising the need to manage diversity
constructively, supporting a strong and diverse society and maintaining a pluralistic media.
Moreover, it is noted that ‘failure by the State to provide such protection and guarantees
to its population can create an environment conducive to atrocity crimes’ (UN, 2014:3).

Reinterpreting the UK approach to hate crime


Consequently, atrocity crimes are not regarded as a single or random event. Rather, they
are understood as developing in a dynamic process, with cycles of reaction and counter-
reaction sometimes occurring between communities. Therefore, the recording and
monitoring of hate incidents and crimes are regarded as important aspects of tension
monitoring within states. Thus, it is noted that ‘it is possible to identify warning signs or
indicators that [atrocity crimes] might occur’ (UN, 2014:3-4), with intergroup tensions or
patterns of discrimination against protected groups identified as two significant indicators
of genocide. Discriminatory security procedures against specific groups of the civilian
population are highlighted as additional indicators and have been implicated in the
commission of crimes against humanity (UN, 2014:3-4; 10-21). As discussed by Williams et
al. (2013:5-6), tension monitoring within the UK dates back to efforts aimed at improving
the capacity of the police to anticipate civil unrest prompted by Lord Scarman’s report into
the riots in Brixton, London and other English cities in 1981. Thus, it is noted that the ACPO
Manual of Guidance on Keeping the Peace (2000) recommended monitoring signs of tension
in anticipation of public disorder, with further recommendations following the riots in
Burnley and other northern English cities in 2001, including within a Department for
Communities and Local Government (2008) report and a report by the Institute of
Community Cohesion (2010) that resulted in the widespread adoption by the majority of
police services in England and Wales of the Experienced, Evidenced, Potential (EEP) system
to record, collate and assess community tension (Williams et al. (2013:5-6).

It is evident, therefore, that the preservation of social and political order domestically and
internationally requires the defence of liberal values, particularly those of human rights,
equality, tolerance and mutual respect, the protection of which underpins strategies to
counter terrorism (UN General Assembly, 2004:1-5; Council of the European Union, 2008),
extremism (Her Majesty’s Government, 2011:62) and hate crime (Home Office, 2012:12;
Her Majesty’s Government, 2018:3). Thus, it has been argued that ‘without group-level
discrimination, even deeply seated grievances are unlikely to transform into the patterns of
abuse that give rise to genocide’ (UN, 2014:10-21). Anti-discrimination measures and crime
control strategies consequently comprise key aspects of a twin strategy directed towards
the preservation of the status quo and social and political order, domestically and

This argument was recognised by the Labour government in their 1964 election manifesto,
which discussed the end of colonialism and the responsibility of the British government
towards the Commonwealth. Identifying three great problems faced by Britain – those of
poverty, a rapidly rising population and racial conflict – the manifesto recognised the role
of the Commonwealth ‘in grappling with the terrible inequalities that separate the
developed and under developed nations and the white and coloured races’. The manifesto
explained: ‘That is why a Labour Government will legislate against racial discrimination and
incitement in public places and give special help to local authorities in areas where
immigrants have settled’ (Labour Party, 1964:online). Significantly, within the manifesto the
requirement to place limits on the number of immigrants entering the UK was also explicitly
recognised, with the Labour government committing to retain immigration controls if
elected. Consequently, whilst it has been suggested that the current anti-discrimination
legislation and policy framework is inherently contradictory in that it coexists with

Laverick and Joyce


discriminatory legislation and race relations polices, a cursory examination of the wider
context indicates greater compatibility between immigration and access control measures
and anti-discrimination measures than previously assumed. Thus, the manifesto referred to
the ‘tremendous challenge’ posed by issues of poverty to Western industrialised nations,
noted that ‘the problem presented by the colonial uprising is not limited to the
Commonwealth’ and should be ignored ‘at our peril’, and recognised ‘a growing danger that
the increasing tensions caused by gross inequalities of circumstances between the rich and
poor nations will be sharply accentuated by differences of race and colour’ (Labour Party,


Transnational crime and international policing scholarship has for some time recognised
that policing, crime control and governance are associated with threat and security
management (Findlay, 1999, 2008; Bigo, 2000; Sheptycki, 2007 reproduced in Sheptycki,
2015:290). As detailed by Deflem (2011:90), policing, especially within Europe, originally
sought to monitor politically suspect movements and gradually shifted to address other
distinct criminal activities. Scholars consequently distinguish between ‘high’ and ‘low’
policing, with the former dedicated to establishing and preserving a political order and the
latter referring to routine street policing (Brodeur, 2007 reproduced in Sheptycki,
2015:217). Therefore, crime control strategies and policing are regarded as inherently both
normative and political. Domestic and international hate crime control is no exception, with
Andreas and Nadelmann (2006:13) reminding readers that there is ‘nothing natural,
permanent, or inevitable about what states choose to criminalise or decriminalise’.

This paper has suggested that the UK hate crime framework evolved from an initial concern
about social and political disorder associated with racially motivated violence and
discrimination, and expanded to address hate crime (incorporating a range of protected
group-based identity characteristics). More recently, however, the threat to the UK has
extended further, encompassing not only social and political disorder but also ideological
threats. Thus, in 2010, the UK National Security Strategy acknowledged the need to ‘deal
with threats motivated by different ideologies that compete with our values’, explicitly
recognising that whilst Al Qaeda represented ‘a major ideologically driven threat’, there
remained a ‘realistic possibility’ that over the next ten years ‘regionally based ideologies’
and ‘extremists motivated by new ideologies or narratives could cross the line between
advocacy and terrorism’ (Her Majesty’s Government, 2010b:16). In the wake of the murder
of Lee Rigby in 2013, the EU referendum in 2016, the Westminster Bridge attack, the London
Underground attack at Parsons Green and murder of Jo Cox MP in 2017, action to address
hate crime entered UK strategies to counter extremism, radicalisation and counter-
terrorism. Thus, the UK’s Extremism Strategy observed that ‘many hate crimes are
motivated by extremist ideologies, often propagated by individuals who make a careful
effort to stay just within existing legal parameters, exploiting the very freedoms they claim
to despise in order to undermine our society’ (Her Majesty’s Government, 2015:10-11).

Therefore, within the UK a causal link is assumed between extremist ideology, hate crime
and terrorism, which are distinguished on the basis of whether an individual merely opposes
liberal values or encourages, uses or threatens to use violence to achieve their political or

Reinterpreting the UK approach to hate crime


religious objectives. The UK Extremism Strategy consequently commits to tackling all forms
of extremism: violent and non-violent, Islamist and neo-Nazi. Significantly, however, the
international focus upon socio-economic marginalisation, discrimination and political
exclusion, and the explicit recognition of the relationship between structural and
institutional illiberalism and these illiberal outcomes, remains absent from this policy

More recently, hate crime has entered into political discourse and policing policy, marking
a turn towards vulnerability issues and a ‘whole communities’, ‘needs-based’ approach
(Laverick and Joyce, 2019). This victim-centred policy turn moves beyond the five monitored
protected characteristics to address a range of identity characteristics at the individual level,
addressing intersectionality and complexity in victimisation. However, in doing so, this
approach still masks the role of structural and institutional factors of illiberalism in providing
the conditions underpinning both the perpetration of hatred and prejudice-based
victimisation. Moreover, this approach additionally serves to obscure the role of the state
in perpetuating racial and religious tension within society, also diverting attention away
from the continuing difference in hate crime figures for particular groups, especially for
racially and religiously motivated offences, which remain the dominant form of hate-based
victimisation in the UK (Laverick and Joyce, 2019).

As detailed in this paper, central to the UK’s early framework to address prejudice-based
discrimination, harassment and violence was the desire to preserve domestic social order
and counter the threat posed by illiberal groups and individuals. Less frequently discussed,
however, is the function of anti-discrimination legislation and policy, alongside economic
development strategy, as associated tools of soft power to secure these ends. Nevertheless,
despite the international (and early UK) acknowledgement of the link between illiberalism
(in the form of discrimination and inequality) and societal disorder and violence, it remains
the case that over time, explicit recognition of this relationship has faded. Moreover, the
need to address structural and institutional forms of illiberalism as a means to counter
illiberal ideologies and behaviours has become replaced by policies and strategies that
prioritise a single-minded focus upon tackling opponents of liberalism rather than
addressing the underlying (illiberal) factors that are conducive to victimisation and

By reinterpreting the UK government’s current hate crime framework as part of a wider
response to the domestic and international liberal crisis, we suggest that the UK framework
is both normative and political, with its primary function being to defend liberal values and
maintain order domestically and its secondary function to help preserve the liberal
framework of international society. In consequence, we regard the UK’s framework as part
of a continuum of action spanning extremism, hate speech, hate incidents, hate crime,
terrorism and atrocity crime, directed towards the alleviation of social, political and
ideological threats. Viewed in this way, we do not regard immigration legislation, counter-
terrorism measures and extremism strategies as contradictory; rather, they are consistent
with the overriding objective of anti-discriminatory laws and policy, and development
strategy, to maintain social order and control, internationally and within the UK.

Laverick and Joyce


Whilst it is entirely plausible that anti-discrimination measures and development strategies
derive (in part) from humanitarian impulses and moral enlightenment, the paper lends
support for the work of other scholars, including Hardt and Negri (2001), Andreas and
Nadelmann (2006) and Pogge (2008), who have highlighted the need to remain sensitive to
complexity, advocating consideration of the role played by multiple actors, often with
competing and contradictory interests and relations of power. We suggest, therefore, that
addressing the role of crisis and conflict in explaining agenda-setting, criminalisation
processes and crime control responses may warrant higher priority than has been the case
among hate crime scholars, and we urge policy-makers and practitioners to reinstate
attention to addressing internal manifestations of illiberalism, including institutional
discrimination, workforce representativeness, racial and religious disparity and a lack of
equal opportunities.

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