Violence against Chinese in the UK widespread and under-reported

Updated: 2016-08-18 10:12

By Angus McNeice in London(

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Rosa Hui, director of the Bristol and Avon Chinese Women's Group, says there are both cultural and practical reasons many in the Chinese community choose not to report crime.

"Sometimes it is a language barrier, sometimes it's a cultural thing — Chinese people have a perspective of ‘everything's fine, I don't want to make trouble, I am in a foreign country, I should be self-sufficient.' Asking for help is against the grain, it's seen as a sign of weakness," Hui said.

Hui also explained that a perception that reporting crime to the police is futile also contributes to underreporting. Hui received lottery funding in May this year to set up a helpline where Chinese people can report crime without going directly to the authorities.

Third party reporting is a tactic employed by Chinese associations and police departments around the country to tackle the problem of under-reporting. In its study, the All Party Parliamentary China Group emphasised a need for an increase in funding for local Chinese associations, identifying them as the "most effective organisations" to deal with "the most hard to reach Chinese."

In 2012, the West Midlands Police launched a third party reporting center along with the Chinese Society in Birmingham, allowing victims to speak with trained staff in their own language.

"Some people who come from other countries have a notion of what the police service is like that might be different to how we operate in Britain. Sometimes those perceptions of the police service might lead to mistrust," says Inspector Gareth Morris, neighbourhood policing manager for Birmingham Central.

"We want to encourage people to talk about their problems so setting them up with a familiar face, someone who speaks the same language, who operates and exists within a community that people are familiar with, can help break down some of those initial reporting barriers and at least give us some picture of what's going on."

Morris says the West Midlands Police have taken a number of measures to try and improve communication with the Chinese community, including language training and working groups that bring together officers and Chinese business owners.

"We are sending an officer to Hong Kong and Chinese mainland to work with the police over there and to understand some of the cultural pressures as well as look into organized crime. We want Chinese people to have the confidence to report to us, and equally we want them to feed us intelligence and information, to be a set of eyes and ears, that's how the British police functions. We'd like people to work with us and to join the police."

Morris said Chinese officers are hugely underrepresented in the police force in Britain and that increased recruitment from the Chinese community would go a long way to improving the relationship with police. Hui agrees that recruitment is essential, though he says authorities face an uphill battle as policing is commonly viewed as an undesirable line of work among the Chinese.

With additional reporting by Dai Tian

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