Greater Manchester Police has begun rolling out a virtual reality project which allows its officers to experience what it is like to be the victim of a hate crime.
The first-of-its-kind project is designed to help officers sympathise with hate crime victims.
Officers run through three scenarios with three different victims, all based on true incidents that took place in Manchester but which were not reported to police.
One scenario focuses on antisemitism with elements of misogyny, while the other two cover disability and transgender hate crime.
The antisemitism scenario begins in a synagogue, where the victim – a young woman – tells the wearer of the virtual reality goggles about her experience and how it made her feel. The scene then shifts to a reconstruction of the incident, with the wearer becoming the victim in the scenario, including taking on their height and stance.
In the case of the disability scenario, the wearer also adopts the visual impairment of the victim as well.
The final stage of the scenario keeps the wearer in the position of the victim, but this time in conversation with police officers, one who re-enacts a response that received good victim feedback and the other whose response could be improved.
According to the police force, antisemitic and transgender hate crimes were included because of the surge in the number of incidents, while disability was included because it is considered to be significantly underreported. The fact that all three incidents were not reported is a reminder that many hate crimes and hate incidents go unreported.
Campaign Against Antisemitism was one of a number of organisations that provided input into the various scenarios, and we applaud Greater Manchester Police for its ingenuity in training officers about hate crimes.
Earlier this week, Campaign Against Antisemitism reported on very positive feedback from Cornwall and Devon Police following an antisemitism training series that we provided to the force.