The Hate Crime Advocacy Service (HCAS) offers a safe and confidential space to provide support to victims of hate and signal crimes across the different protected characteristics. We can support you whether or not you have reported the crime to the police. We accept referrals from all agencies and self-referrals. Interpreters across a wide range of languages are available upon request.
It is delivered through a consortium of advocacy organisations, including:
It is jointly funded by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) and the Department of Justice (DOJ).
A hate crime is any crime of incident where the perpetrator’s hostility or prejudice against an identifiable group of people is a factor in determining who is victimised. Hate incidents will always be logged as such, even if no criminal offence has taken place.
‘Signal crimes’ are ‘message crimes’ that signal that the community of which the victim is a member is different or not accepted. They include any criminal incident that causes change in public or a particular segment of society’s behaviour and/or beliefs about their security.
Hate crimes and incidents cause harm not only to you but also to society. By reporting both hate incidents and crimes to police, this helps us get you the support you need. Reporting may also help prevent these crimes and incidents from happening to someone else. This helps police and other services understand the extent of hate crime in your area and allows them to respond more effectively.
Being a victim of this kind of crime or incident can be a particularly frightening experience as you have been victimised because of ‘who you are’, or ‘who or what your attacker thinks you are’. These crimes can take place anywhere – at home, in the street, at work and at school. Incidents can include threats, verbal abuse, arson, robbery, violence towards you and damage to your property.
The effects of hate crime and incidents can last for a long time, especially if you have suffered repeatedly.
Many people find it helps to talk to someone who understands. The HCAS can help in the aftermath of an incident or at any stage during the criminal justice process. Our Advocates will listen to you in confidence and give information on court processes, provide practical help and advocacy.
We can also give you information about the criminal justice system and aid you through claiming compensation if you choose to report the crime. We signpost you to a range of support organisations and services, such as housing agencies or mental health counselling, if you are having difficulties because of what has happened to you.
The HCAS advocates for victims of all ages, genders and abilities to be supported as you journey through the criminal justice process. Anyone can access the service through a variety of routes, including referrals from all consortium partners, criminal justice institutions, other community organisations and by contacting us directly through our website or phone. Our Advocates will aid you in reporting incidents and attaining updates on your case from police and other criminal justice organisations. You can also contact us directly if you seek to pass on crime intelligence or trends in local areas in which we can pass this information onto police to address these issues.
Advocates will always adopt a person centred, strength-based approach to their work, enabling victims to develop clear, attainable and beneficial goals, while helping you rediscover their strength and autonomy in the wake of a crime or incident. All victims will be signposted to other specialist agencies in line with their needs, and referrals made where consent is given.