Race based hate incidents most common offence reported to University in 2019-20

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Hate incidents based on race were the most common type of offence reported to Durham University using the Report and Support tool between October 2019 and February 2021, according to data published by the University.

21% of reports using Report and Support, which launched in October 2019 and can be used by staff and students, were for “hate incidents based on race”. The University told Palatinate that 48 reports were for race based hate incidents – 14 with contact details and 34 anonymous reports.

The University admitted that the proportion of reports that relate to hate incidents based on race is “concerning”, and that 48 reports is “too many”. However, the University is adopting a “multi-faceted approach” to ensure that such incidents are investigated and appropriate action is taken against perpetrators, such as disciplinary consequences or police involvement.

A University spokesperson told Palatinate that the University is currently recruiting a Community Liaison Lead (Race & Ethnicity) who will act as a primary point of contact within the University for race and ethnicity related issues in the community.

Hate incidents made up 30% of reports. Other types listed include “hate incidents based on multiple characteristics” (7%), “hate incidents based on sexual orientation” (1%), as well as “hate incidents based on transgender identity” (1%), and “hate incidents based on disability” (0%).

Aside from hate incidents reported, bullying covered 19% of reports, with 15% of reports classified as non-sexual harassment. Sexual assault incidents made up a further 11% of reports, and sexual harassment made up 7%. Incidents of rape or attempted rape made up 4% of reports.

 “We invite everyone across the University to be active in the fight against racism, harassment and bullying.”

Natalie Saunders

New data published by the University revealed that since February 2021, the proportion of race based hate incidents reported to the University has decreased. Hate incidents now make up 22% of reports. Bullying is now the most common type of offence reported to the University using the Report and Support tool, amounting to 22% of reports. Hate incidents based on race made up 10% of reports between October 2019 and July 2021, equaling sexual harassment, which also made up 10% of reports.

An investigation by Palatinate found that, between October 2019 and February 2021, three-quarters of bullying and harassment claims reported using the University’s Report and Support tool which specified a gender, were submitted by women. 30% of reports which disclosed the race of the reporting party were made by BAME students or staff. 

The University website says that BAME and women-identifying members of the Durham community experience “disproportionately high levels of unwanted behaviour”.

Staff and students can choose to remain anonymous when making a report using the tool. However, when an anonymous report is made, the accused individual cannot be named. When students and staff report a named individual, they are required to disclose their own identity. In this case, the report is passed to trained staff and an investigation may follow. 

Data published by the University reveals that 66% of reports made between October 2019 and July 2021 were anonymous, and 34% of reports provided contact details. The University explains that there is a high proportion of anonymous reports “due to personal effects and burden of proof”.

Natalie Saunders, Interim Director of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, Durham University, said: “We do not accept any form of prejudice or discrimination at Durham University and we condemn any incidents of racism, harassment and bullying in the strongest possible terms.

“The Report + Support tool was introduced back in 2019 to enable students and staff to report, and the University to monitor, incidents of unwanted behaviour. The platform also enables us to investigate, provide support and inform future interventions.

“As awareness of this platform rises, so do reporting levels, which contributes to a better understanding of the prevalence, and nature, of the incidents that are being experienced. Even if the report is anonymous, we benefit from being able to use the trend data to design and implement effective interventions.

“The proportion of reports that relate to hate incidents based on race is indeed concerning. For context, the 21 per cent that is referred to in the period from October 2019 to February 2021 amounts to 48 reports; 14 with contact details and 34 anonymous reports – and 48 is too many.

“To remove these unwanted behaviours from our University we are adopting a multi-faceted approach which is both preventative, including through training, and responsive, to ensure that those who have experienced such incidents get the support they need, that incidents are investigated and appropriate action is taken against perpetrators. This could include disciplinary consequences or police involvement.

“Ultimately we need to work together to make our University a safe, respectful and inclusive environment where people feel comfortable to be themselves and flourish. We invite everyone across the University to be active in the fight against racism, harassment and bullying. We will continue to work both internally and with external stakeholders to improve the experiences of all members of our community, including our female and BAME students and colleagues.”

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