A specially trained team of students will take part in a project at the University of Huddersfield to help tackle hate crime at campuses throughout the country.
The goal of the project is to tackle the barriers that might hinder the reporting of crimes or incidents motivated by factors such as race, gender or disability.
“One of the motivations for our project is to better understand the reasons behind the lack of reporting,” said Matt Mills, the University of Huddersfield’s director of student services and the project’s manager. “We will introduce measures and mitigations to better support our students because the consequences of hate crime against an individual are awful.”
A unique part of the scheme is that some 20 students from Huddersfield will be recruited and trained to be peer educators on campus and online.
“They will speak with fellow students, possibly run some training programmes and also be active in the digital space. We want to develop some positive messages encouraging reporting and we know that these will be widely shared with current students,” said Mr Mills.
One idea that has been put forward is the development of an online hate crime reporting tool, but this will be discussed further during the planning phase.
The student team will recruited and trained after the planning phase. A final evaluation stage will follow so that the findings can be rolled out across the UK higher education sector.
The Higher Education Funding Council for England (Hefce) established a fund for projects to tackle hate crime and online harassment on campuses at the end of 2017.
The University of Huddersfield was awarded almost £50,000 for proposed research titled “Enhancing a Safe and Secure Learning Community”. This money was then matched by the university and its partners – West Yorkshire Police, Kirklees Council and the Huddersfield Students’ Union. This means that the 12-month project’s total funding will amount to £100,000.