Godfrey Bloom - What a bloomin’ fool
Godfrey Bloom, a candidate for Humberside’s first Police Commissioner has sparked anger by saying that he would want to abolish the concept of hate crime.
Bloom, who currently serves as an MEP for Yorkshire and north Lincolnshire said,
If I’m elected commissioner I will not give policing priorities to any cultural or social minority who claim they should have preference. What I believe is that my police force, if I’m elected, will react with alacrity to any crime, especially violent crime, regardless of colour, creed or sexual orientation. I will not give priority to one group or another.
His comments serve only to display his lack of understanding of what hate crime is and how it affects individuals. Simply ‘abolishing the concept of hate crime’ merely serves to eradicate the penalty, but in no way deals with eradicating the act itself. With nearly 50,000 hate crimes recorded in England, Wales and N Ireland in 2010, not taking into account the thousands of unreported incidents, the incidence of hate crimes (crimes motivated by hostility or prejudice based on a personal characteristic) cannot simply be dealt with by a wilful denial of its existence.
In defending his beliefs, Bloom went on to say,
“I don’t know. If someone bashes me over the head and they don’t say ‘I hate middle-class bald ********’, is that a hate crime?”
Bloom’s comments have been backed by his Party, UKIP. A UKIP spokesperson said,
“We are all equal before the law and that has been a proud boast of British justice for centuries.”
But that’s the point. We are not equally treated in society. Newly reported figures reveal that of the nearly 50,000 hate crimes in 2011 -12, 85% of them were racially motivated and the overwhelming majority were violent crimes. Moreover, the 2010/11 British Crime Survey clearly demonstrates the different experience ethnic groups have within the Criminal Justice System, both as victim and perpetrator.
For example, the risk of being a victim of personal crime was higher for members of all BME groups than for the White group and was highest for adults from a mixed ethnic background. The difference in experience is also clearly illustrated at every stage of the Criminal Justice System, demonstrating that the ideal of equality before the law is not always achieved. Black individuals were stopped and searched 7 times more than White people in 2009/10 and were arrested 3.3 times more than White people. Furthermore, a higher percentage of those in BME groups were sentenced to immediate custody for indictable offences than in the White group in 2010 - White 23%, Black 27%, Asian 29%.
Therefore, Bloom’s comments and UKIP’s backing of his views are not only a step back, but demonstrate a lack of understanding of this vital legislation which seeks to recognise that some crimes are motivated by hatred of particular groups of people, and that in a civilised society, it is not acceptable. The reason why the tariff for race hate crime is higher than other crime is because the motivation is driven by pure hatred. Throughout history we have enough information to know what this leads to.
It is not the first time that Mr Bloom has courted controversy with his comments.
He praised the sinking of the Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior in 1985, in which one man died and in 2004, he said no "self-respecting" small business owner would employ a woman of child-bearing age. In 2010 he was also ejected from the European Parliament after directing a Nazi slogan at a German leader of the socialist block in Parliament, Martin Schulz. Bloom said "Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Fuehrer" - one people, one empire, one leader - as Martin Schulz was making a speech.