Research on hate crime risk assessing

Hate Crime Risk Assessing

EMPAC is pleased to report on new research from Dr Loretta Trickett,
Associate Professor at Nottingham Law School, on risk assessing hate crime occurrences.

The challenges

The key findings are of the research are:

  • hate crime is a unique offence which should be reflected in the development of ‘specific’ risk assessment tools. Combined tools which merge hate crime with ASB or under the umbrella of ‘vulnerability’ create opportunities for confusion and ambiguity. The evidence highlights the risk of using a combined model.
  • the risk levels of Low/Medium/High can address the range of risks covered. More than three risk levels are ‘impractical’ and would over-complicate the process
  • risk assessments must be practical for both officers and victims and should be in an electronic format compatible with police databases where risk levels can be easily monitored and updated
  • risk management procedures should be included within risk assessment tools. Electronic tools should lead officers onto the appropriate interventions once risk levels have been selected. Risk assessment interventions should include reference to appropriate support agencies
  • risk assessment tools should be properly explained to officers in training or at least briefing sessions by senior officers
  • a balance must be struck in the number of questions asked. There must be sufficient questions to determine the level of risk but too many questions can make the tool impractical, hinder rapport with victims and reduce the inclination for officers to use their professional judgement which may encourage a procedural focus and tick box mentality
  • there is a need to allow space for professional judgement in the design of risk assessment tools
  • risk assessment questions are most useful if they directly affect the determination of risk and procedural response. Factual questions were often considered better in this regard
  • Low Risk cases should be identified early on, recorded for intelligence purposes and referred to an alternative support agency – officers should not have to complete very detailed risk assessment forms in such cases (electronic format on existing databases would enable low risk cases to be upgraded if necessary)
  • examples of low risk included where incidents were between unknown parties in situations where they were unlikely to meet again. Or where individuals such as Third Parties had reported to the police, but the actual victim did not wish to pursue the matter or complete a fuller Risk Assessment
  • clear filtered risk assessment models (see below) with risk levels of Low/Medium/High mean that separate risk assessments for victims with a learning disability are unnecessary. Effective training delivered by Learning Disability Agencies and Victims on best practices for communication is recommended; this could be supplemented by the development of guides to best communication practices (Learning Disability Agencies) which could then supplement Risk Assessment tools

Core recommendations

Given this evidence the recommendations to Police Forces build from two risk assessment models:

  • A gradient system where initial questions are designed to identify the risk of repeat victimisation and future harm early on – questions about whether the offender was known, place of victimisation for example. When answering these questions if the risk of future harm was identified as ‘Low’ it could be recorded for intelligence and monitoring purposes with the standard level of intervention being a follow up phone call and referral to a Victim Support Agency, further questions would not need to be asked. If, having asked the initial questions, however, the Risk Level is above ‘Low’, additional questions would then be asked and a categorisation of ‘Medium’ or ‘High’ would then be chosen
  • A streamlined primary risk assessment tool for front-line officers, based on factual questions resulting in a Low/Medium/High grid and a secondary more detailed risk assessment for neighbourhood policing teams and/or partner agencies using a ‘case worker’ approach which would be undertaken if cases had been identified as Medium/High risk.

Nottingham Trent University researchers are keen to support police forces in England and Wales which are looking to development risk assessment tools and management procedures. This research has been undertaken in partnership with Nottinghamshire Police Force and is being continually developed.

For more information contact Dr Loretta Trickett, Associate Professor at Nottingham Law School, loretta.trickett@ntu.ac.uk, 0115 941 8418. Click here to read more: https://www.ntu.ac.uk/about-us/news/news-articles/2019/01/police-forces-offered-valuable-support-with-hate-crime-risk-assessments-following-ntu-research


[1] This report was updated in 2016 to take account of hate crime rises around the EU Referedum.

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