Reporting racism, either as a victim, witness or supporter, can be a confusing and complex task to navigate. We hope that the below article will help you recognise if what happened to you as a racist crime or as an act of discrimination, and inform you what steps to take next.
Before you go ahead with making a complaint, please take a moment and read our previous article listing what you should take under consideration while reporting racism.
We encourage the reporting of ALL types of racist incidents to iReport.ie and relevant bodies and we hope that this article will make this process easier and clearer for those affected.
IDENTIFYING THE FORM OF RACISM
Before your report racism, recognise what happened
Before you report a racist incident, you should identify the form of racism that has taken place. Was it discrimination in employment or in access to services, which relates to equality legislation, or a criminal act which relates to criminal law? See below for information what racist crime and discrimination are, as answering this important question is crucial to determine where and how you should prorgress with reporting the incident.
Hate crime has two important elements:
- CRIMINAL ACT: Hate crimes are acts which are treated as crimes in CRIMINAL LAW. Those offences include:
- Assault, including assault causing harm or serious harm.
- Criminal damage to property or threat of criminal damage.
- Rape or sexual assault.
- Public order offences (disorderly conduct, threatening and abusive behaviour, affray, violent disorder).
- BIAS MOTIVATION: Hate crimes are motivated, at least in part, by bias or prejudice against someone’s real or supposed identity or background.
Racist crimes should be reported to An Garda Síochána.
SEE BEFORE HOW TO REPORT RACIST CRIME
occurs when a person is treated in a less favourable way than another person is treated in a comparable situation based on any of the nine prohibited grounds listed in the EQUALITY LEGISLATION:
- Gender (including transgender)
- Civil status
- Family status
- ‘Race’ (includes skin colour, ethnicity and nationality)
- Religion (or none)
- Sexual orientation
- Membership of Traveller Community
The tenth ground of discrimination has recently been added.
- Housing assistance (i.e. in the provision of accommodation)
Discrimination is outlawed by Irish equality legislation in the workplace and in the provision of goods and services.
All racist discrimination cases, either at work or in access to goods and services, should be reported to the Workplace Relations Commission.
Reporting Racist Crime
If you have experienced or witnessed a crime being committed, you will most likely become involved in the criminal justice system. This experience can be a very confusing and stressful, therefore this section aims to explain the specific stages involved in reporting and investigating racist crimes. It also aims to identify the rights of a victim throughout the process and provides information on where to make complaints if you are not satisfied with the treatment you received from the Gardaí.
Racist crime and the law
THERE IS NO EFFECTIVE HATE CRIME LEGISLATION IN IRELAND
LEGISLATION IN IRELAND WHICH can be used against perpetrators of racist crime:
- Criminal Justice (Public Order) Acts, 1994-2011
- Criminal Justice Act 1964 and 1994, Section 6
- Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act,1997
- Criminal Damage Act, 1991
- Prohibition of Incitement to Hatred Act, 1989
- By-laws, for example by-laws enforced by transport companies such as CIÉ.
Where to report racist crime
Anyone who feels that they have been a victim of or witness to a racist crime such assaults, verbal abuse, damage to property or dissemination of material that may have the potential to incite hatred, should contact THE EMERGENCY SERVICES or their LOCAL GARDA STATION. See below for details and other options available to you.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ‘ORDINARY’ AND HATE CRIME?
Gardaí defines hate crime as ‘Any criminal offence which is perceived by the victim or any other person to, in whole or in part, be motivated by hostility or prejudice, based on actual or perceived age, disability, race, colour, nationality, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation or gender’.
While reporting a racist crime, it is important for you to tell Gardaí if you think it’s a hate crime and ask them to record it that way. If you have any evidence of bias or prejudice (i.e. racist language used), let them know. This can help but is not essential for recording what happened to you as a hate crime.
An emergency is any incident which requires an immediate Garda response. Examples of emergencies are:
- A danger to life
- Risk of serious injury
- Crime in progress or about to happen
- Offender still at scene or has just left
Staff members of the GNDIU (formerly GRIDO) coordinate, monitor and advise on all aspects of policing in the area of diversity. They are available to members of the public and the Garda organisation for advice and support in the GNDIU area of expertise.
GARDA NATIONAL DIVERSITY AND INTEGRATION UNIT (GNDIU)
Harcourt Square, HarcourtStreet, Dublin 2
T: 01 666 3150/3817 E: email@example.com
STEP BY STEP: HOW TO REPORT RACIST CRIME
Step 1: REPORTING a crime
- Victims are entitled to information on their rights on the first contact with the Gardaí, regardless of whether they have made a formal complaint.
- If you fear to go to the police station, it is possible to request that a GARDA DIVERSITY OFFICER call to your home or any other place where you feel comfortable. You can ask them to wear plain clothes and come in an unmarked car. If it would make you more comfortable, you can also request to speak to either a male or a female Garda. If a victim wants a totally confidential service and is afraid to deal with their local police, the GARDA NATIONAL DIVERSITY AND INTEGRATION UNIT (GNDIU) can be contacted to deal with the matter.
- If you don’t feel comfortable reporting the crime alone, you can bring another person of your choice and a legal representative when you are giving a statement to An Garda Síochána. You can get in touch with your local Federation for Victim Assistance to accompany you.
- When a crime victim wishes to report a crime to the Garda Síochána, the Gardaí must take a formal statement from the injured party/complainant. The investigating Garda will write it down and get you to sign. You may request a copy of that statement. Gardaí are not entitled to attempt to mediate a situation without first checking if the victim wishes to make a formal statement.
- When reporting a racist attack, it is important to provide as detailed information as possible including:
- How you were attacked/the nature of the hate crime.
- The number of people involved.
- If you know the identity of the attacker(s) and where they live or, alternatively, what they looked like and/or what they were wearing.
- What, if anything, was said by the attacker, particularly anything insulting about your skin colour, ethnicity, nationality, cultural background or religion.
- Why else you regard the attack as having been racially or religiously motivated.
- If you have been attacked before, when and by whom.
- Where and when the attack happened.
- The nature of any injuries sustained. It might be helpful to obtain medical evidence.
- If anyone else was attacked.
- The names and addresses/phone numbers of any witnesses.
- Any concerns about your (or your family’s) safety.
- The Garda should explain the investigation process to you and provide you with the name, telephone number and station of the investigating Garda.
- Every alleged crime is given a specific PULSE Incident Number (see below). Ask for that number and keep a record of it, so that the police can quickly find the details of your case if needed. Additionally, ask for and keep the personal number of the Garda taking the report and dealing with your case, which is displayed on the shoulder of his/her uniform. It is also helpful to keep a record of the date you reported, the date of any subsequent calls you make, and who you spoke with.
- When reporting a crime, you are obliged to give your name to the Gardaí, but it is not compulsory for you to give your address. You have the right to state your address as ‘care of’ (c/o) the Garda station where you have reported the crime.
- Update the police with any changes or developments in your case, i.e. if you noticed further losses or damage since you first reported the offence, or you may be suffering further effects from an injury caused by the crime or if you changed your address or contact details.
THE PULSE SYSTEM AND RACIST CRIME
- PULSE is a computer system used by the Garda Síochána to record crimes and other incidents. The system enables the Gardaí to record instances of racism and hate crimes directly into the system. There are currently 11 categories to capture different types of hate crimes in Ireland, including racism, homophobia, anti-Traveller offences, ageism, acts against people with disabilities, sectarianism, anti-Roma sentiments, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, transphobia and gender-related issues.
- Because the PULSE system does not prompt Gardaí to record a crime as a hate crime, you should specifically ask them to record it as such to make sure it goes on the system.
- Calls to 999 or 112 about hate crimes will be automatically recorded on PULSE for later investigation but may not have the hate crime element recorded. You can request this to be added later.
step 2: investigating a crime
- Once you have given your statement the matter will then be investigated by the Gardaí, who will gather all available evidence, such as statements from victim(s) and witnesses, CCTV, fingerprints or DNA.
- If you have been the victim of a racist crime which you have reported to An Garda Síochána, you are entitled to receive an update about the investigation and any significant developments in your case including arrest, charge, bail, remand and any other court date.
- As well as the PULSE number of the crime, the Gardaí must tell you the name, telephone number and station of the INVESTIGATING GARDA OFFICER who will be your first point of contact and with whom you should keep in touch for information and support. Gardaí work on a rotational three 10-hour shift basis, 6 days on and 4 days off, so it is advisable to phone your Garda station to check when the Investigating Officer assigned to your case is next on duty. Quote the incident PULSE number in all communication. You will also be contacted by your local GARDA VICTIM SERVICE OFFICE.
- PROTECTION OF VICTIMS: When investigating, the Gardaí are required to individually assess all victims of crime to determine if the victim has any protection needs or if they should be provided with any protection measures. If you, or others close to you, are harassed or threatened in any way during an investigation or court appearance, you should contact Gardaí immediately.
GARDA VICTIM SERVICE OFFICES (GVSO)
Garda Community Engagement and Public Safety Bureau, Garda Headquarters, Harcourt Square, Dublin 2
T: 01 6663 880/363 E: firstname.lastname@example.org WEB: www.garda.ie/en/victim-services/find-my-local-victim-service-office/
Supporting all victims of crime is now part of every anti-crime strategy. The Garda VictimService Offices are the central point of contact for victims of crime in each of the 28 Garda divisions. The offices are staffed by specially trained personnel whose role is to keep victims informed of all significant developments associated with their case, as well as to provide contact details for relevant support and counselling services. They supplement victim support activity already being undertaken by investigating members of An Garda Síochána.
- Victims of burglary, assault or criminal damage receive a follow-up call from the Victim Service Office to ensure they have all the required information including contact details of the investigating Gardaí. Victims can also raise any additional issues. They are provided with crime prevention advice and details for external services available from other State and/or Non-Governmental Agencies.
- Victims of domestic violence, sexual crime or other crimeswhere there is trauma are given advice and support in person from investigating or specialist Gardaí.
- Depending on the investigation and the evidence, the Gardaí may arrest a suspect.
- There is no onus on an alleged perpetrator of a crime to make a statement in their defence about an alleged incident.
- A suspect of a crime cannot be detained and questioned for a Public Order Offence, as a conviction for such an offence would not receive a five-year sentence. Only suspects of a serious crime (possible sentencing of five years or more) can be detained and questioned by the Gardaí.
STep 3: the prosecution: Charging a suspect
- When the investigation is complete the case is referred to the GARDA SUPERINTENDENT or to the DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC PROSECUTION (DPP). They read the file to see if there is enough evidence to prosecute someone for the crime and assess if it is in the public interest to bring the case to court. If there is, the DPP will decide what the charges should be.
OFFICE OF THE DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC PROSECUTIONS (DPP)
Communications and Victims Liaison Unit, Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, Infirmary Road, Dublin 7
T: 01 858 8500 E: email@example.com WEB: www.dppireland.ie/victims_and_witnesses/
- Brief guide to the criminal justice system:dppireland.ie/brief-guide-to-the-criminal-justice-system/
The DPP is the agency responsible for the prosecution of crime in Ireland. It decides whether or not to charge people for committing crimes, or in other words, to prosecute them. The DPP also decides what the charges should be. Once the prosecution begins, the Office of the DPP is responsible for the prosecution case.
WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT FROM THE DPP AS A VICTIM AND AS A WITNESS
If you are a victim, you can ask the DPP to:
- Take your views into account while deciding whether to prosecute.
- Look again at a decision that has been made, with which you do not agree.
- Inform you whenever possible of the reason for not proceeding with a prosecution if a member of your family or household is the victim in a fatal case.
If you are a witness, the DPP will:
- Treat you with respect and take account of your personal situation, rights and dignity.
- Work with An Garda Síochána to make sure that you are kept up to date on your case, especially if it concerns a violent or sexual offence.
- Arrange for you to talk to the prosecution solicitor and barrister before the court case begins, if you wish. They will explain what will happen in court, but they cannot talk to you about the evidence you will give.
- The investigating Gardaí will tell you whether the DPP has decided to prosecute and, if so, when and where the court case will take place.
- For serious crimes, such as murder or sexual offences the prosecution is carried out by THE OFFICE OF THE DPP, usually in the CIRCUIT or CENTRAL or SPECIAL CRIMINAL COURT.
- For less serious crimes, such as public order offences, some traffic offences and minor assaults, the case is prosecuted by THE GARDAÍ in the DISTRICT COURT. However, the prosecution is still taken in the name of the DPP who has the right to tell An Garda Síochána how to deal with the case.
- If the Gardaí or the DPP decide not to prosecute, a victim can request the reasons as to why such a decision was taken. A victim can also request a review of a decision by the Gardaí or the DPP not to prosecute.
- Once a person is charged with an offence, there must be a court appearance within 40 days; this is called a statute of limitation.
step 4: the court case
- When the case is brought to court, a date for a hearing is set. There is an average waiting time of three months.
- Any information about an impending court date can be obtained from the Garda Station where the crime was reported by quoting the PULSE incident number. If a person pleads guilty, the victim of the crime may not necessarily be informed of the court date or any conviction.
- If a suspect has been charged, and is due to appear in the court, the Gardaí are obliged to inform the victim:
- Whether the accused is in custody or on bail and the conditions attached to the bail.
- Of the time, date and location of the court hearings.
- About the nature of the prosecution process.
- Whether he/she will be called as a witness.
- Of the help available from Victim Support.
- That a judge may ask for a ‘victim impact statement’ and arrange for its completion.
- Whether he/she is entitled to court expenses.
- Of the outcome of the trial.
- If the crime caused serious trauma to you or your family, the Gardaí will tell you if the offender is about to be released from prison, if they are notified of the release.
- A judge has discretion not to permit the cross-examination of a victim about their private life where there is a need to protect the victim from secondary and repeat victimisation, intimidation or retaliation and it would not prejudice the case.
- If the accused is found not guilty, he or she is free to go. If the accused is found guilty, the judge will sentence him or her. The sentence will usually be decided later. If the jury cannot agree a verdict, the DPP must decide whether a new trial should take place.
- All victims of crime can present a ‘victim impact statement’ at sentencing, should they wish to do so.
- If the accused has been sentenced, the DPP can ask the Court of Criminal Appeal to review the sentence if he/she thinks it is unduly lenient – in other words, so light that it is wrong in law. The DPP can ask for a review of sentences from the Central Criminal Court, Circuit Criminal Court and Special Criminal Court. The DPP cannot appeal a sentence from the District Court.
- If your case has gone to court and someone has received a prison sentence in relation to the case, the IRISH PRISON SERVICE can assist victims of crime.
IRISH PRISON SERVICE VICTIM LIAISON SERVICE
Victim Liaison Officer, Irish Prison Service Headquarters, IDA Business Park, Ballinalee Road, Longford
T: 043 3335 100 E: firstname.lastname@example.org WEB:www.irishprisons.ie/victim-liaison/victim-liaison-service/
If a person is in custody having been convicted of committing a crime against you, you may request information from the Irish Prison Service Victim Liaison Officer in relation to significant developments relating to the management of the perpetrator’s sentence such as temporary releases, parole board hearings, prison transfers, expected release dates, etc. This strictly confidential service is available only by request.
The Victim Liaison Officer can also provide victims with general information on the prison system such as the prison regime, remission on sentences and our system of parole, including the operation of the Parole Board.
AN GARDA SÍOCHÁNA AND PEOPLE FROM MINORITIES
- All members of An Garda Síochána should treat victims with dignity and respect – regardless of your gender, race, religious beliefs, ethnic origin, sexual orientation, age, nationality, disability, economic circumstances, marital or family status or if you are a member of the Traveller community.
- The Criminal Justice (Victims of Crime) Act 2017 gives victims of crime minimum rights to information, support and protection regardless of their residential status or what documentation they have.
- If you are reporting a crime, the Garda is not entitled to ask questions regarding the citizenship, residency status, nationality or religion of a victim or witness or to enter such information into the incident report, unless it is of investigative significance or relevant to the investigation.
- The Gardaí, the Garda Ombudsman, the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Courts Service and the Irish Prison Service must ensure that any communication with a victim, whether oral or in writing, is in a simple language and it considers any personal characteristics or disability that a victim may have.
- If you are unable to communicate fluently in Irish or English, the Gardaí are obliged to provide free interpreting services so that you receive the quality of service to which all victims of crime are entitled. If the police refuse to provide an interpreter, you can ask to see their policy on translators and interpreters and you may want to consider making a complaint.
Victim's rights in ireland
- The right to comprehensive information on the criminal justice system;
- The right to information on victim support services;
- The right to be kept informed on the progress of the investigation and any court proceedings;
- The right to an individual assessment of their protection needs and measures to safeguard them from further victimisation and intimidation;
- The right to be informed of a decision not to institute a prosecution and the right to request a review of that decision;
- The right to receive information in clear and concise language and to interpretation and translation where necessary.
Additional information on victim’s rights, on An Garda Síochána obligations and the Criminal Justice System as well as An Garda Síochána Diversity & Integration Strategy in Ireland can be found in:
- Garda Síochána Victim Information Leaflet provides some relevant information that can help victims access their entitlements as set out in the EU Victims Directive.
- Garda Victim’s Charter outlines what you as a victim can expect once you report a crime.
- Brief Guide to the Criminal Justice System explains the most common questions you may have about the criminal justice system in Ireland
- An Garda Síochána Diversity & Integration Strategy in multiple languages.
COMPLAINTS AGAINST THE POLICE
In cases of unsatisfactory action from the local Garda taking your statement that is confined to unsatisfactory policing service (as opposed to the conduct of the Garda which may amount to discipline or criminal behaviour) contact the GARDA VICTIM SERVICE OFFICE.
If you are still not satisfied with their response, contact your local GARDA STATION SUPERINTENDENT, whose contact you can obtain from your LOCAL GARDA STATION, or your DIVISIONAL GARDA VICTIM SERVICE OFFICE.
If you are not satisfied with the service from your local Garda station contact GARDA NATIONAL DIVERSITY AND INTEGRATION UNIT (GNDIU) or GARDA SÍOCHÁNA OMBUDSMAN COMMISSION.
DISCRIMINATION BY THE POLICE
It’s against the law for the police to discriminate against you on any of 9 grounds listed in the equality legislation. If you feel discriminated against by Gardaí at any stage or think they are not taking your complaint seriously because of discrimination, you can follow the above steps or make a complaint to the WORKPLACE RELATIONS COMMISSION (WRC) under the Equal Status Act.