Home Office Police Innovation Fund – Online Hate Crime Hub

Reference code: 
PCD 41
Date signed: 
27 July 2016
Authorisation name: 
Sophie Linden, Deputy Mayor, Policing and Crime

Executive summary

MOPAC successfully applied to the Home Office Police Innovation Fund (PIF) for funding to develop a proof of concept project to deliver an online hate crime hub.  The total programme cost is £1,730,726 of which £452,756 has been awarded in PIF monies.  The remaining costs are match funded in cross-partner resources from MOPAC and the MPS; the largest contribution being the provision of dedicated police officer resources. 

 

This decision outlines our ambitions and seeks approval to commit £1,730,726 in total in line with the programme budget.

Recommendation

The DMPC is asked to approve:

  • the allocation of £160,000 in 2015-17 (£80,000 in 2016/17 and £80,000 in 2017/18) for the development and delivery of the data analysis and evaluation of this project;
  • The DMPC is asked to approve the allocation of up to £100, 000 (£50,000 in 2016/17 and £50,000 in 2017/18) for the development and delivery of the community hub element of this programme of work.    
  • delegate authority to sign any individual grant or contract agreements related to the work described in sections 2 in line with the MOPAC Scheme of Delegation.

Non-confidential facts and advice to the Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime (DMPC)

1. Introduction and background

1.1. In January 2016 MOPAC successfully applied to the Home Office Police Innovation Fund for a total of £452,756 over two years, to deliver a proof of concept programme for the establishment of an online hate crime hub. This decision outlines our ambitions and seeks approval to commit £1,730,726 in total in line with the programme budget.

1.2. Consultation during the development of the MOPAC Hate Crime Reduction Strategy for London identified the increasing role that online hate played in targeting individuals and communities. Social media provides hate crime perpetrators with a veil of anonymity, making it harder to bring them to justice and potentially impacting on a larger number of people. Those targeted can become isolated, living in fear of the online behaviour materialising in the real world. The police response to online hate crime is inconsistent, primarily because police officers are not equipped to tackle it. The purpose of this programme is to strengthen the police and community response to this growing crime type.

1.3. The programme comprises an innovative online hate crime hub, involving a dedicated police team, that will build technological and community capacity to address a technology based concern. It will; improve the police response, capability and intelligence to facilitate counter measures that can reduce and prevent further criminal activity and victimisation; ensure victims are effectively identified and receive timely support; and build community capacity to respond collectively to online hate.

1.4. There are four elements to the Hub Programme:

• Filtering and identification of online hate crimes through a dedicated, trained police team, identifying the location of the crime and allocating to the appropriate force area and social media providers through designated referral routes. This element of the programme will be delivered through existing MPS resources, comprising 1.0fte Detective Inspector, 1.0fte Detective Sergeant, 3.0fte Detective Constables, and 0.5 FTE MPS Analyst;

• Training of police and VCSE organisations in using online tools to address online hate crime, which will be delivered in partnership with social media providers (as a match funded resource).

• Building community resilience to deal with both criminal and non-criminal incidents by supporting community volunteers to identify, report and challenge hate material, and the development of timely referral pathways into victim support services; and

• Developing the intelligence base through the use of new data analytics, to improve decision-making and tasking, allowing predictive policing methods to enable crime prevention and targeted community engagement.

1.5. This new approach will:

• Enhance skills, capacity and resilience within the police service and communities to respond to this emerging crime type;

• Strengthen the relationship between the police, communities and social media providers through agreed working protocols;

• Bring more offenders to justice, demonstrating a more effective cross-sector response, and increasing public confidence to report hate crime;

• Deliver efficiency savings through the initial filtering and allocation process;

• Provide additional intelligence gathering opportunities; and

• Enable more targeted and effective services for victims.

2. Issues for consideration

2.1. As a PIF funded project, MOPAC is required to deliver an evaluation of the work delivered and the outcomes achieved. £160, 000 (£80, 000 in each year) of PIF monies has been allocated for the purposes of data analysis and evaluation and will be used to augment MOPAC capacity to deliver against this specific work stream. The full evaluation process is being developed, but the key measures of success will include tracking of the volume of reports investigated by the hub and the efficiencies this delivers in officer time; the volume of reports referred to other police force areas; the levels of confidence of the related victims; and the volume of victims referred to victim support services. The MOPAC Evidence and Insight Team is well placed and qualified to deliver and oversee this work and will bring in additional staff and resources through the approved suppliers to ensure sufficient capacity for delivery.

The DMPC is asked to approve the allocation of £160,000 in 2015-17 (£80,000 in 2016/17 and £80,000 in 2017/18) for the development and delivery of the data analysis and evaluation of this project.

2.2. A key element of this programme is the delivery of the community hub element, which will work with and support community volunteers to identify, report and challenge online hate material. In order to ensure delivery this requires full time capacity to recruit, train and manage a group of community volunteers, who are skilled in the use of social media and are able to both identify and appropriately respond to inappropriate content in the online environment to build the counter-narrative.

2.3. The successful delivery of this element of the bid will require specific skills and experience of dealing with hate crime and hate crime victims, as well as the ability to effectively manage volunteers, and to mobilise quickly to keep within the two year project timeline. It is therefore proposed that a conditional grant is awarded to Stop Hate UK a well-established voluntary organisation, on the basis that (i) the organisation has sufficient experience and expertise in dealing with hate crime/hate crime victims, (ii) the organisation has specific experience of delivering this kind of community support in different parts of the UK, namely Hampshire and in Northern Ireland, and therefore understands the requirements; and (iii) the organisation therefore has in place the appropriate infrastructure and protocols to effect speedy mobilisation in London.

The DMPC is asked to approve the allocation of up to £100, 000 (£50,000 in 2016/17 and £50,000 in 2017/18) for the development and delivery of the community hub element of this programme of work.

3. Risks to delivery

3.1. Capacity – the risk of being overwhelmed by cases passed to the hub; Evidence suggests this is unlikely, however the hub is providing additional capacity. In the event that the number of cases exceeds the capacity of the hub, existing police services will retain primary responsibility for responding to reports of crime received in their area.

3.2. Police services not acting on cases passed to them; the governance arrangements will include liaison with police to whom reports are passed on, but the nature of the response will be a local decision.

3.3. Implementation delays; Mobilisation plans and governance arrangements, and engagement with voluntary sector partners, will begin to be put in place as soon as support for the bid is confirmed. There will be an option to utilise existing staff, and backfill posts, until staffing model is in place.

4. Financial Comments

4.1. The total cost for the two-year proof of concept programme is £1,730,726 of which £452,756 has been granted to MOPAC further to an application to the Home Office Innovation Fund Bid with
£1,277,970 committed in cross-partner (MOPAC/MPS/social media providers) resource as matched funding and for MOPAC/MPS is provided for within existing resource.

4.2. Total proposed spend for 2016/17 and 2017/18 respectively is £958,363 and £772,363, of which the Innovation Funded sums are £244,378 and £208,378.

4.3. The procurement of the additional capacity to deliver the community hub element of this programme falls within the exception set out in MOPAC’s Contract Regulations which applies where there is no acceptable alternative supplier. It is proposed that Stop Hate UK is commissioned to undertake this element of the programme due to the unique mix of hate crime and volunteer development and management experience. This will be for the purposes and duration of the proof of concept programme only. Should MOPAC subsequently decide to continue with this work beyond the life of the PIF bid, then an open and competitive process would be put in place to secure the appropriate resources to deliver any continued programme of work.

4.4. Home Office funding must be spent by 31 March of the financial year for which it is approved. Grant payments are made in arrears in two tranches November 2016 and June 2017 for expenditure incurred up to the value of the approved amount.

5. Legal Comments

5.1. MOPAC’s general powers are set out in the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 (the 2011 Act). Section 3(6) of the 2011 Act provides that MOPAC must “secure the maintenance of the metropolitan police service and secure that the metropolitan police service is efficient and effective.” Under Schedule 3, paragraph 7 MOPAC has wide incidental powers to “do anything which is calculated to facilitate, or is conducive or incidental to, the exercise of the functions of the Office.” Paragraph 7(2) (a) provides that this includes entering into contracts and other agreements.

5.2. Section 143 (1) (b) of the Anti-Social Behaviour Crime and Policing Act 2014 provides an express power for MOPAC, as a local policing body, to provide or commission services “intended by the local policing body to help victims or witnesses of, or other persons affected by, offences and anti-social behaviour.” Section 143(3) specifically allows MOPAC to make grants in connection with such arrangements and any grant may be made subject to any conditions that MOPAC thinks appropriate.

5.3. The powers in section 143 were given to MOPAC following the Government’s response to the consultation Getting it Right for Victims and Witnesses (2 July 2012) in which it set out a package of reforms to the way in which support services for victims of crime are to be provided. Section 143 creates a clear statutory basis for the proposals set out in this decision form in respect of the work with MTCs to support young victims of crime.

5.4. Under MOPAC’s Scheme of Delegation, consent and approval of the strategy for the award of individual grants and the award of all individual grants (for crime reduction or other purposes) is a matter generally reserved to the DMPC (paragraph 4.8). The release of funding in accordance with the proposals set out in this decision form is accordingly to be approved by the DMPC. The delegation of responsibility for the finalisation of planning and contractual/grant arrangements, including relevant terms and the signing of agreements, to the Chief Operating Officer or an appropriate officer is in accordance with the provisions set out in part two of the MOPAC Scheme of Delegation.

6. Equality Comments

6.1. MOPAC is required to comply with the public sector equality duty set out in section 149(1) of the Equality Act 2010. This requires MOPAC to have due regard to the need to eliminate discrimination, advance equality of opportunity and foster good relations by reference to people with protected characteristics. The protected characteristics are: age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation.

6.2. The importance of cyber, or online crime, is recognised by police and government. Digital Policing is one of the four pillars of police reform under consideration by the Police Reform and Transformation Board. While the majority of online crime is business or finance based (fraud, scams etc.) and has prompted a robust response in the form of initiatives such as the National Cyber Security Centre, the rise of social media has had a dramatic effect on the way in which people interact online, providing new avenues for crime, and in particular hate crime. This plays out in the experiences of victims who by definition have one or more of the five protected characteristics identified as motivations for hate crime; race, faith, sexual orientation, disability and transgender status.

6.3. Hate crime victims have higher levels of depression, stress and anger, and for longer than victims of other types of crime Victims report that the simplest elements of daily life can be affected, such as which streets they walk down, how they answer the phone, reactions to strangers, and suspicion of co-workers.

6.4. The recent Tell MAMA report identified 45% of anti-Muslim hate crime took place online, and the organisation is seeing up to 80% of its resources used in monitoring online hate and supporting the victims. CST reports 17% of anti-Semitic incidents took place on social media.

6.5. The benefits of this programme include efficiency savings for police while providing a better service, and a robust challenge to the socially negative impact of hate perpetrated online as part of a wider discourse. However the most benefits are attained by those communities who are targeted for hate crimes by virtue of one or more protected characteristics. These individuals are disproportionately, but positively impacted by the potential of this programme to detect and prosecute perpetrators of online hate crime and offer appropriate support services to help victims cope and recover.

6.6. Service providers for any commissioned services (potentially volunteer management and evaluation services) will be asked to provide details of their Equalities processes as part of any tender or grant agreement processes.

7. Background/supporting papers

7.1. Police Innovation Fund Bid submitted 04/01/2016.