Hamilton police are making it easier for residents to report hate/bias incidents.
Deputy Chief Frank Bergen notes that hate crimes are generally underreported and says police have heard “loud and clear that people need a way to report incidents to police in a manner that is comfortable for them.”
Bergen says the move is about providing another layer of assurance to the community that “we’re open, we’re transparent, we need the information.”
The online reporting option also lets friends and family report on behalf of a victim.
The Hamilton Centre For Civic Inclusion’s interim executive director, Kojo Damptey, says we’ll have wait and see how online reporting impacts people affected by hate in Hamilton.
Damptey says complainants also need to see action that shows they are being taken seriously, because too often “these incidents don’t lead to charges or even if they do, they don’t change the mindset of how people interact with racialized communities, members of different religious groups and members of the 2+ LGBTQ community.”
Hate crimes report
On Thursday the latest hate crime numbers will be presented to the city’s police services board meeting which will reveal there were 92 suspected hate/bias incidents and criminal offences reported to Hamilton police in 2019.
The majority directly related to religion with 42 reported cases, 29 of those connected to the Jewish community.
Incidents with racial bias overtones were the second most reported with a total of 38, according to police. The most targeted group was allegedly the black community which accounted for 34 of the incidents, a 17 per cent increase year over year.
Meanwhile, incidents involving sexual orientation and gender identity made up the remaining 12 reported incidents.
The 92 incidents and criminal offences equate to a 26.4 per cent decrease year over year from 2018 which had 125 crimes and incidents.
The new hate/bias reporting tool is available at http://www.hamiltonpolice.on.ca. Hate/bias incidents can also be reported on the phone at 905-546-4925 or in person at any Hamilton police station.