Few racist incidents reported to gardaí, says report
Officers often not aware of force’s own racist reporting policy
Chief executive of the Integration Centre Killian Forde.
Few people who experience racism report it to gardaí because they believe there is no point, they don’t know who to report it to or are fearful of the authorities, a report published today shows.
Gardaí are often not aware the force has a racist reporting policy or how it works, according to the study from the Integration Centre.
Just 13 per cent of those surveyed reported racism despite 87 per cent saying they had experienced racism. The survey involved 150 people who accessed the Integration Centre for information on citizenship and living in Ireland.
More than a third said there was no point in reporting racism, 10 per cent said they did not know who to complain to while 6 per cent said they were fearful of the authorities. Thirty per cent said they did not believe the incident was serious enough to report.
Official racist crime in Ireland per head of population is 27 times lower than in England and Wales. In a one-year period between 2011-2012 the number of racist incidents reported in England and Wales was 47,678, while in Ireland just 97 were recorded, the report shows.
But the way racism is recorded between the countries is very different. In Ireland only convictions involving racist crime are recorded whereas in England and Wales crimes and incidents are recorded.
“There is no way of knowing how often people have reported racist incidents to the gardaí when no crime was deemed to have taken place or no conviction was secured,” says the report.
In Ireland an individual must report a racist crime by going to a Garda station or ringing the official Garda emergency or confidential numbers. In England and Wales an incident can be reported online, by posting in a form, on the local government website or by ringing the police or calling in to them.
A separate survey of 13 gardaí of various rank showed most did not know the definition of racism or that it was their responsibility to record racist incidents. Calls made to the large Garda stations in Dublin showed gardaí answering the phone did not know who the ethnic liaison officer in their station was.
“Training is a major issue for this large force. Of the 13,559 gardaí, only 3,22 have received training as ethnic liaison officers,” says the report.
It adds: “The recording system and lack of legislation prevents gardaí from taking racist incidents more seriously.”
The Integration Centre wants laws to be strengthen to make racism a factor in sentencing and for gardaí to be better trained on the issue. It also wants a system put in place for recording racist incidents and an online system of reporting.
“At the official level the fact that there is a problem around racism in Ireland is refuted again and again, with policy makers and politicians using Garda statistics to back up this claim. This research shows that there is a huge gap between the racism experienced in Ireland and the level recorded by the gardaí,” said Helena Clarke, author of the report.