Tackling hate, statements, and security of places of worship and faith-based organisation premises
There are a range of ways that organisations can tackle hate and work together for the safety and security of faith communities and their members.
Helpful guidance can be found in Looking after one another: The safety and security of our faith communities produced by IFN in partnership with the Crown Prosecution Service, Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities; Equality and Human Rights Commission; Home Office; National Police Chiefs’ Council and National Fire Chiefs Council.
1. Tackling hate
The police and the Crown Prosecution Service have agreed the following definition for identifying and flagging hate crimes: "Any criminal offence which is perceived by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by hostility or prejudice, based on a person's disability or perceived disability; race or perceived race; or religion or perceived religion; or sexual orientation or perceived sexual orientation or transgender identity or perceived transgender identity." https://www.cps.gov.uk/crime-info/hate-crime. These crimes “are covered by legislation (Crime and Disorder Act 1998 and section 66 of the Sentencing Act 2020) which allows prosecutors to apply for an uplift in sentence for those convicted of a hate crime.”
As the CPS website further notes, “There is no legal definition of hostility so we use the everyday understanding of the word which includes ill-will, spite, contempt, prejudice, unfriendliness, antagonism, resentment and dislike.” See also: Racist and Religious Hate Crime - Prosecution Guidance | The Crown Prosecution Service (cps.gov.uk).
Always report hate incidents/ potential hate crimes. You can do so online through http://report-it.org.uk/your_police_force; at a police station; by ringing the police on 101 (non-emergency) or 999; or via 3rd parties such as CST and Tell Mama. Contact details for these and for other third party bodies such as SikhGuard and Stop Hate can be found in the Resources section of https://interfaith.org.uk/resources/looking-after-one-another-the-safety-and-security-of-our-faith-communities-2023.
There can be situations where potential hate incidents overlap with other potential illegal actions such as glorification of terrorism or support for proscribed terrorist organisations. In cases of the latter, the first course of action is to report the matter to the police.
Information about proscribed terrorist groups and organisations and a list of these, can be seen at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/proscribed-terror-groups-or-organisations--2/proscribed-terrorist-groups-or-organisations-accessible-version.
Where there is any concern about potential terrorist activity, this should be reported at https://www.police.uk/tua/tell-us-about/ath/possible-terrorist-activity/.
For those running charitable bodies, the Charity Commission publication Protecting charities from abuse for extremist purposes provides relevant guidance.
Social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Tik Tok and X (formerly Twitter) may be the medium for sharing of posts which you may believe either contravene UK law or cause community tensions. Most inter faith and faith initiatives do not have the wherewithal to monitor such matters regularly. However, if you are concerned about a post you can report directly to the social media platforms posts that you believe contravene their guidelines and, if you believe they may break UK law, to the police. There is helpful guidance from a number of other bodies, for example https://www.stophateuk.org/about-hate-crime/what-is-online-hate-crime/how-to-report-online-hate/.
2. Using statements to speak out against hate or at times of tension
Statements sometimes have a place in responding in solidarity to hate or at times of tension. Many member inter faith organisations of course have their own guidelines. These will vary, depending on the structure of organisations (who speaks for them, who clears statements etc) and also on such matters as whether organisations make statements on overseas matters. In case helpful in an inter faith context IFN’s Policy on the Making of Statements can be found at https://www.interfaith.org.uk/news/ifns-policy-on-making-of-statements.
Some examples of recent statements made by inter faith bodies in the context of UK inter faith impacts of terrorism, conflict and suffering in Israel and Gaza can be seen at https://www.interfaith.org.uk/news/inter-faith-statements-vigils-prayer-gatherings.
IFN’s Board of Trustees recently issued a statement on ‘Standing Together Against Hate Crime'. This can be seen, together with the editors' notes, at https://www.interfaith.org.uk/news/standing-together-against-hate-crime. It also sets tackling hate crime in the present context where reported antisemitic and anti-Muslim hate incidents have spiked since 7 October and where ‘mistaken identify’ hate incidents are also a concern for some other communities.
3. Security of places of worship and faith-based organisation premises
There are links to useful resources for security of places of worship in Looking after one another: the safety and security of our faith communities.
The Home Office has been providing funding for protective security measures for places of worship in England and Wales under two schemes: Places of Worship Protective Security Funding Scheme; and Protective Security for Mosques Scheme. https://www.gov.uk/guidance/places-of-worship-security-funding-scheme