• Policing the threat: ‘implied hate crime’, homophobia and behaviour change

      Iafrati, Steve; Williams, Clare (Sheffield Hallum University, 2016-12-17)
      This research is based on focus groups with gay men in the Black Country, an area o f the West Midlands and examines the extent to which the men change their behaviour to avoid being identified as gay. Frequently, behaviour change was not in response to direct or overt threats, but instead, in response to perceived or implied threats. The way in which this limits personal freedoms and feelings o f community safety should be regarded as a key element of hate crime. The men in the focus groups also recognised clear geographical dimensions to this implied hate crime, with certain areas being identified as hostile. Problematically, relying solely on quantitative data to inform patterns o f hate crime is therefore limited as it (i) fails to include perceptions, (ii) fails to recognise that certain areas are avoided because o f perceived threats, and (iii) fails to recognise underreporting. A strategic response to hate crime must involve being more proactive and a multi-agency approach, with this article identifying how this research led to a sustainable and strategic response.