Hate crime and online abuse intervention for students across Suffolk

University of Suffolk in Ipswich. Picture: GREGG BROWN

University of Suffolk in Ipswich. Picture: GREGG BROWN - Credit: Gregg Brown

The University of Suffolk is to receive thousands of pounds of funding to help tackle hate crimes and online abuse on campus, it is revealed today.

The university will work with Microsoft, the Revenge Pornography Helpline and others in a new year-long project to train students to combat the offences.

Just under £40,000 will be given to the university from a £1.8m package from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) helping over 40 universities nationwide.

Sarah Tattersall, chief executive of the university’s students union, said: “Although we don’t have reports of hate crime and online harassment being an issue here at Suffolk, we are keen to promote safety campaigns whenever we can. This project will include a range of activities, workshops and media campaigns to increase online respect, especially in regard to gender, ethnicity, sexuality, and disability.”

The funding will support a range of projects, to:

Encourage greater student engagement and collaboration.

Embed more effective reporting systems for hate crime and harassment.

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Train students how to combat hate and harassment.

Support international students.

Develop whole-institution and area-wide collaboration.

Mohammad Dastbaz, deputy vice chancellor, said: “(The funding) will improve student wellbeing and safety online, and improve students’ understanding of illegal and inappropriate content and conduct online.”

The news comes the day before the Home Office publishes police-recorded hate crime data for 2016/17 – the first since Brexit. There was a 14% national rise

The university will also work with the Marie Collins Foundation, the UK Safer Internet Centre and Blue Lights Digital to increase ‘digital civility’ and improve online harassment safety for students. A rise in social media abuse prompted the Crown Prosecution Service this summer to extend hate crimes to include online offences. Others include racist, religious, disability, and homophobic offences.

Professor Madeleine Atkins, chief executive of the HEFCE, said: “Universities and colleges are making progress in tackling the issues of hate crime and online harassment on campus, but there is more to be done. We will share good practice and evidence of successful outcomes.”