Last week I had the rare experience of hearing extraordinary life stories told in a way that was both serious and humorous. At an event organised by Susan Cousins, Cardiff University’s Equality and Diversity Project Officer, Superintendent Jay Dave and Bharat Narbad, Chair of South Wales Police Black Police Association, talked about the journeys of their families from Gujarat to the UK – in Superintendent Dave’s case via Tanzania.
“When people talk about Syrian refugees as ‘them’ or ‘others’ — it jars,” said Superintendent Dave. “I am one of those ‘others’. My family moved here after Tanzania kicked out Asians ten years before the Ugandans did. We moved to the East End of London, then Romford and finally to Wales.”
The event was a Race Hate Crime Session. It was attended by 27 people from across the University and is part of the University’s response to the Independent Bhugra Review into racial equality at the University.
I was asked to attend for the University Executive Board and was saddened, if not surprised, to hear of the race hate crimes that the police themselves endure. In Superintendent Dave’s case it was a recent event in a pub in England. “A particular individual was heard to abuse me and to say that I should go back to my own country,” he said. More alarming still – he felt he did not get a satisfactory response from the local police force.
The session broadened to look at hate crimes or incidents in general. A hate incident is any incident which may or may not constitute a criminal offence that is perceived by the victim, or any other person as being motivated by prejudice or hate. A hate crime is any hate incident which constitutes a criminal offence and is perceived by the victim or any other person as being motivated by prejudice or hate. More information on hate crime
The police encourage all such crimes or incidents to be reported to them. As Jason Coultis, Cardiff Hate Crime Officer, said, “If we don’t know of the crimes we can’t support the victim and bring the perpetrator to account. And it makes it difficult to target our resources in the right direction”.
The University has set up a Disclosure Response Team with specialist university staff trained to respond to student disclosures of violence and abuse. They offer practical support, including:
- support to manage ongoing safety concerns
- contact face to face, via phone or online, to talk about your experience and all the options of support available
- practical advice on housing, financial and academic needs
- support if the person who has been violent/abusive lives or studies with you
- signposting to specialist support agencies.
The ultimate aim of everyone in the room is to end hate crimes altogether and one of the best ways of doing this is to bring about dialogue so that different communities see each other as people, not stereotypes. It is why Superintendent Dave and Bharat Narbad chair of South Wales Police Black Police Association are prepared to tell their own stories and to share their extraordinary journeys. It was a privilege to hear them.