The Importance of reporting and logging racist incidents

Thu, August 6, 2015

This is a guest post from a third-year sociology student at Trinity College who spent two weeks as an intern at Nasc working on our Racist Incident database.

NascLogo3As a support system for immigrants in Ireland, one of Nasc’s key roles is helping to combat racism by raising awareness, providing support and compiling evidence. The key mechanism through which these tasks are carried out is the Racist Incident Reporting system which was first pioneered by Nasc in 2008. The need for such a mechanism and its continual improvement has arisen due to the under-reporting of racist crimes, and the lack of adequate legislation to deal with them.

My primary role as an intern in Nasc was to update the current database of racist incident reports by including additional parameters in order to get a clearer picture of the problem. The database is Nasc’s primary tool in constructing statistics on racism that can be presented to lobby for change. ‘iReports’ are also submitted through the Irish Network Against Racism’s (ENAR Ireland) website alongside each case taken at Nasc in order to centralise data on a national scale to strengthen the cause. Together, this evidence helps facilitate change by showing policy makers that the problem of racism is very much a reality in Ireland and one that needs to be addressed more seriously.

I found it eye-opening to read about some of the reports that had been made because it gave me a better idea of the prevalence of racism and the various forms it takes in Ireland, from issues with housing and employment to harassment and abuse on the streets and online. Not only this but it was also informative to see all the various avenues through which action can be taken and how these can be utilised. The Gardai are the most common port of call, especially for racism committed by an individual(s), but for institutional forms of racism there is also Threshold for housing, Equality Tribunals, and the Garda Ombudsman to name a few. Depending on locality there are also other support centres like the Immigrant Council of Ireland. These connections are being continually strengthened by Nasc as the database grows.

One of the first things I learned, when reading through some of the reported incidents, was to treat every case with respect and to remember that it is the perception of racism by the victim that is important. Third party reporting is also a promising expansion of the reporting system and it is encouraging to see more of this occurring in more recent cases, especially from those who may not be an immigrant themselves as this contributes to the spreading of the type of attitude that is conducive to change. Not only is it important for those who are directly affected by racism to be aware of the help that is available but it is also incredibly important to the movement that those who witness racism report it as well.

Overall operating in this role has shown me that there is a need to let others know that although the laws are not up to scratch as yet everyone must push to change this. In the meantime there are ways to help those in need and the addition of third person reporting is key in this process as it is something that everyone can be proactive with. The direction of the Racist Incident Reporting Database going forward is towards being as specific as possible in the collecting of data in order to display exactly where the problem lies so that it can be tackled effectively.

Jerome Wynne-Morgan
Nasc Intern