Victorian Police to consult JCCV on crimes involving prejudice

November 17, 2010 by Geoffrey Zygier
Read on for article

The Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV) will be among community stakeholders consulted by Victoria Police about the latter’s new strategy to improve its response to crimes motivated by prejudice.

Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Simon Overland has written to JCCV President John Searle seeking input on Victoria Police’s Prejudice Motived Crime Strategy (PMC) which has the overall aim of increasing understanding of this phenomenon and to reduce its incidence in Victoria.  In agreeing to meet with Jeff Pope, Assistant Commissioner Intelligence and Covert Support, Searle made the following observations:

Chief Commissioner Simon Overland and John Searle

“Prejudice motivated crime (PMC) has been of great concern for our community and its various constituents for many years, as it has been for many others.

As one of the groups that has borne the brunt of PMC, the Jewish community has long been aware that PMC is not an abstract problem, but a pernicious and pervasive illness in society.  It is a phenomenon that occurs every day, manifesting in ways ranging from name calling to physical violence inflicted people just going around their business.  It has tremendous social, cultural and economic implications, the last exemplified by the dramatic decrease in overseas students coming here.

The Jewish community is gratified that Victoria Police now acknowledges that PMC causes significant harm to victims and to society as a whole.  This has not always been the case.  We are further pleased that it has a strategy aimed at increasing the understanding of PMC and reducing its incidence.  Most of all we are happy to see that its Action Plan notes the possibility of the creation of a PMC unit in Victoria Police.

We have long been insistent that such a body, a ‘Hate Crimes unit’ as we have termed it, is a necessary tool in the battle against PMC.  Of course its practical functions eg informing policy, data collection and analysis, and education would be extremely important.  But perhaps of equal significance would be the symbolism of its establishment and existence.  A PMC unit is a concrete statement that Victoria Police takes this matter seriously.  It would inform its own members of this, boost the confidence of members of victim groups (hence increasing both community engagement and reportage of PMC to Victoria Police) and would send an unmistakable message to the general community that PMC is unacceptable.  Finally it would dovetail nicely with the Government’s commitment to our State being the leader and champion of cultural diversity in Australia.

A second matter that the JCCV will speak about to Victoria Police is that of PMC reporting.  In the Jewish community’s case, for example, there is a clear discrepancy between the number of incidents of PMC reported to Victoria Police and to Jewish community institutions.  This under-reporting disguises and perpetuates the problem of PMC.

We know at least some of the reasons for this eg much anti-Jewish activity takes place on the Sabbath against religious Jews, a day when there are practical difficulties hindering them from reporting any incidents.  This perhaps will mean that Victoria Police might have to consider more culturally sensitive reporting systems or allow Jewish institutions to act as an agent for victims on such occasions.   This is something I have previously raised and Victoria Police has been receptive to the idea. I would imagine that other victim groups also face culturally related barriers in relation to reportage.  I intend to elaborate on this important matter when we meet to see if we can devise a solution to the problem.”

Earlier this year the JCCV and the B’nai B’rith Anti-Defamation Commission presented a joint submission on behalf of the Victorian Jewish community to the Victorian Government’s Eames Review on Identity-motivated crime.  This is available on both organisations’ websites, http://www.jccv.org.au/ and http://www.antidef.org.au/.

Speak Your Mind

Comments received without a full name will not be considered
Email addresses are NEVER published! All comments are moderated. J-Wire will publish considered comments by people who provide a real name and email address. Comments that are abusive, rude, defamatory or which contain offensive language will not be published

    Rules on posting comments