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National Hate Crime Awareness Week 2017 – Mark Brookes discusses the difference between hate and mate crime

Steve Scown, myself, Dan Walker and Louise Minchin when we launched #ImWithSam on the BBC Breakfast sofa last year

My name is Mark Brookes. I work for Dimensions as a Campaign Adviser.

Last October we launched a campaign called #ImWithSam. The campaign has been going on for a year and we’ve talked to the government, the Crown Prosecution Service, the police and other organisations to raise awareness about hate crime.

One of the problems we know is that people with learning disabilities don’t always know if they’ve been a victim of hate crime or how to report it.

I would like to talk about the difference between hate crime and ‘mate crime’ and why this is important.

Hate crime

A hate crime is when someone targets you because you are different.

Any type of crime can be a hate crime, if the person chooses to target you because of your race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability.

This could be either calling you names, making fun of you, or hurting you.

A hate crime can happen to you once or the person could target you lots of times.

Mate Crime

‘Mate crime’ is when someone pretends to be your friend to target you because you have a learning disability or autism.

Normally the person thinks you are more vulnerable and that they can exploit you.

At first they start meeting up with you, maybe having a laugh to earn your trust. Then they start doing bad things like asking to borrow money and not paying back. They might start being nasty or stealing off you.

‘Mate crime’ is similar to grooming and coercive behaviour. These are words we use to describe other forms of crime.

Sometimes ‘mate crime’ can lead to tragedy, but a ‘mate crime’ isn’t actually always a crime.

I think using both hate crime and ‘mate crime’ can confuse people.

I understand that people have used the term ‘mate crime’ to be able to talk about the problem, raise awareness, keep people safe and report it.

I don’t like the term ‘mate crime’ because the name is too soft.

If you go to a police station and use the term ‘mate crime’ the police may think it’s just an issue between friends and say you should sort it out between you. People without lived experience might not realise how serious it is.

I think we should refer to ‘mate crime’ as grooming, exploitation and coercive behaviour more often. This will help change attitudes and also the law, so we can protect people from ‘mate crime’.

In conclusion hate crime and ‘mate crime’ should be reported and ‘mate crime’ should always be taken seriously.

It’s important for people to report it so that other people become more aware of hate crime and people exploiting people with learning disabilities and autism.