CASSA’s Hate Crime Reporting Project is funded by the Safe & Vital Community Grant. Through the project, CASSA sought to assess the perceptions, understandings, and experiences of four communities – Toronto, Ottawa, York, and Peel – concerning hate crimes, hate incidents, and their reporting experiences. The project was centered on reducing local risk, crime, and victimization. This included trying to understand victims’ experience and comfort level with reporting – Do they know where to go? Do they know where to find support services? Do they know what happens during the reporting process? How can they better understand the process? Maiura Muralithara, the project coordinator of the Hate Crime Reporting project, stated “When looking at marginalized communities, it is critical to understand community perceptions about hate crime reporting. This is because there is a lack of trust between police and those communities. As a result, victims often perceive perpetrators as themselves, so they are reluctant to report crimes. A major objective of the project was to build bridges and make reporting more accessible by collecting community voices to inform police services of recommendations”.
This project began with quantitative work that they tried to convert into qualitative work. Developing stories: finding out what people are saying and turning it into actionable information so police can respond to them. Later in the project, the project staff found ways to engage with the community. Over 4000 people participated in the community survey, over 50 participated in focus groups, and six key informants were interviewed. Due to Covid, the project staff had to move their surveys and interviews virtually, which was a challenge. Using the survey, they came up with effective recommendations and ideas for this project. In addition, they can identify gaps in research and participation that the police and third-party organizations can use to improve upon. During the project, Mairua found that people do not know the services that are available to them unless something happens to them or their loved ones. “It would be nice to have a hate crime hotline that is linked to Regional Police Services, but I think part of the problem is that no one knows if this hotline exists or what resources exist, which is a problem in itself” – Community member.
As a result of the completion of this two-year project, the project staff conducted training and presentations for the partnered police services on their findings, recommendations, and approaches to better combat hate-motivated crimes in our communities online and in person. The report has been published and is freely accessible online: click here to access it. Moreover, several resources have been developed by CASSA for community members and organizations to use, reference, and share. The resources describe the difference between hate-motivated crimes and incidents, how to report such crimes to the police, where to go for assistance, and other resources and organizations available to assist. All CASSA social media accounts @cassaonline provide access to these resources in English, Arabic, Urdu, Punjabi, French, and Chinese.