It is a recurring situation. A black man wants to go into a bar but the doorman tells him it is full. A few seconds later another man is allowed to enter, but he is white. The first man makes an official complaint and the bar owner may receive a warning, but in reality this is a hate crime.
Malaga city’s Local Police force is trying to prevent these situations, or at least ensure that the correct action is taken if they occur, and has set up a Diversity Management Unit which is a pioneer in the province. It is because these issues are becoming more visible that the European Clara project, of which this scheme forms part, was created and some officers have been to the UK and to Madrid to see how it operates.
Chief superintendent Fernando Cerezo told SUR that at the moment the Local Police does not know how many hate crimes occur in Malaga city because so many are not reported. “But it is clear that there is a demand for this, so after a few months we will assess how it is working and see whether the unit needs to be increased in size,” he said.
The group began working three months ago, so it is still too soon to evaluate its progress. “One of the main objectives is to detect the problems. A lot of cases are treated as simply administrative when in fact they are hate crimes,” said Cerezo.
The officers in this unit will also work closely with associations who have first-hand experience of the problems. “That will help us to detect, for example, public or private places where offences are committed regularly, but also to know the cases where people are afraid to report a problem for different reasons,” he explained.
Hate crime exists when there has been some type of harm in which the victim was chosen because of certain characteristics (ideology, religion or beliefs, ethnicity, race or the nation they are from, gender, age, sexual orientation or identity, poverty or social exclusion, illness or disability, for example).
In hate crimes it is vitally important to prove intolerant or discriminatory motivation as the main motive and it is essential for the officers in the unit to be able to detect these signs, chief superintendent Cerezo said.