As hate crimes appear in headlines on an almost daily basis, Peel Regional Police are urging the public to keep informed and report any incidents that might be hate-motivated.
Last month, Statistics Canada released a report on police-reported crimes across the country in 2018. The report showed that reported hate crimes had taken a modest dip in 2018 but crime was up overall.
In the wake of recent high-profile incidents of violence that appear to be fuelled by hate, Peel police issued a release in the hopes of informing the public about what constitutes a hate-motivated crime and what to do about it.
In a YouTube video created by Peel Police, Det. Feras Ismail from the force’s Equity and Inclusion Bureau said that “while there is no specific hate crime in the Canadian Criminal Code, there are three offences specific to hate.”
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They are: advocating genocide; public incitement of hatred; and the wilful promotion of hatred.
“For police to lay a charge related to hate-motivated crimes,” Ismail said, “two things must occur.”
First, a criminal offence must have occurred and, secondly, hate or bias towards the victim’s race, religion, nationality or sex must have motivated the offence.
The most important difference between hate-motivated offences and regular crime is that if convicted of a criminal offence and it is proven to be motivated by hate or bias, higher penalties may be imposed by a judge during sentencing.
“Hate-motivated crimes are complicated investigations,” Ismail said. “Police have to balance the Canadian Charter of Rights with the Criminal Code of Canada.”
Ismail urges anyone who thinks they may have witnessed or been a victim of a hate-motivated crime to report it to police immediately.
Peel’s Equity and Inclusion Bureau have specially trained officers to deal with this kind of crime and Ismail points out that each division has a hate-motivated crime co-ordinator who will help the victim or witness and will assist police with the investigation.
“These offers have received special training and they maintain strong relationships with various communities,” said Peel Police Cst. Akhil Mooken.
The hope, Mooken said, is to help communities that might be vulnerable to hate-motivated crime feel more comfortable reporting these crimes and working with officers during their investigations.
“If someone feels victimized, it’s important to report it,” Mooken said. “It can be done anonymously through Crime Stoppers as well.”
Anyone looking to report a hate-motivated crime who is not in immediate danger can call Peel’s non-emergency line at 905-453-3311. Call 911 if there’s an immediate danger.