Wednesday 28 September 2016

Pulse system reform allows logging of racism and hate crimes

Published 21/12/2015 | 02:30

Brian Killoran
Brian Killoran

GardaÍ will now be able to record instances of racism and hate crimes directly into their computer systems.

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For the first time, officers investigating offences such as Islamophobia and homophobia will be able to log complaints directly into the Pulse system.

The move has been heralded by various groups across the country as a "massive step forward" in the battle to tackle sickening hate crimes in Ireland.

The Immigrant Council of Ireland welcomed the update saying it sends out a strong message to victims that their complaints are being taken seriously and will be investigated.

Under the overhaul, the system will be able to open cases directly linked to a number of offences.

The categories include racism, homophobia, anti-Traveller offences, ageism, acts against people with disabilities, sectarianism, anti-Roma sentiments, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, transphobia and gender-related issues.

Brian Killoran, of the Immigrant Council of Ireland, said the organisation had been calling for this move for a long time: "We have been involved in a prolonged campaign to reform the way racism is recorded, and pointed out that at one stage the Police Service of Northern Ireland was logging 700pc more cases than gardaí," he said.

"The decision to allow gardaí across the country to log crimes as acts of hatred and racism not only brings the gardaí into line with the PSNI and other European police forces but also tells victims that they do not have to suffer in silence," he added.

"The message is going out loud and clear that no-one should have to fear a brick through their bedroom window, abuse when going to the local shop or discrimination of any form."

His colleague Teresa Buczkowska added that the changes were vital to "ending complacency" around hate crimes.

"The changes in the Pulse system follow an extensive campaign seeking reform in the way race and hate crimes are recorded and handled in Ireland," she said.

"Ending complacency is the first step. The impact of the new reporting system must be kept under review in the coming months, and we would also like to see the introduction of 24/7 hotlines and other technologies to reassure victims.

"Through our own systems, the Immigrant Council records over 150 incidents a year."

Gay and Lesbian Equality Network director Brian Sheehan said he was also "very pleased with the improvements".

"Since the results in the marriage referendum LGBT couples have become more confident in who they are. They're holding hands in the street. It is important that these updates are put in place to help avoid verbal and physical assaults on people's identity."

Irish Independent

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