Investigations of hate crimes
What happens once you report a crime or tell the University that you have experienced a hate crime.
If a police investigation or criminal proceedings are taking place, the University will not normally carry out its own investigation until the criminal process is complete. This is because there is a high risk that a University investigation could compromise any police investigation or criminal proceedings.
In the event of a criminal investigation, University and Students’ Association staff may be required to give evidence about any conversations they have had with you or your representatives.
Once the criminal case is concluded, the University will then consider whether it is necessary to pursue its own, full misconduct. This may happen relatively quickly (for example, if no charges are brought) or the investigation may take a significant amount of time (for example, if the case goes to court, to trial, then to appeal, and so on).
If you make a complaint against a University student or staff member for a hate crime, the University may decide to conduct an investigation into a breach of conduct.
If you report a hate crime which involves another student, the University will consider whether it is appropriate to take action under the Code of Student Conduct. While the criminal process will consider whether a crime has been committed, the University’s disciplinary process considers whether there has been a breach of the Code of Student Conduct.
All students are expected to comply with the Code of Student Conduct; it includes a list of the types of behaviour which would be regarded as unacceptable, such as violent, indecent, threatening or offensive behaviour or language (whether expressed orally, in writing and electronically) including sexual violence or abuse, or harassment (including bullying or sexual harassment).
The University may carry out a risk assessment. If the University considers that there is a significant risk to members of the University community, we may take precautionary action while the matter is investigated. Precautionary action can include restricting a student from accessing some (or all) University facilities or participating in University activities, or prohibiting a student from contacting named individuals.
If the University is undertaking an investigation, a Conduct Investigator (an independent member of staff) will contact you. They will discuss the investigation process with you to ensure that you understand what this will involve, and ask you how you would like to engage with the process. The Investigator will need to provide the student who has been complained about with details of the complaint, and who is making the complaint, in order for them to respond. The investigation may also involve speaking to any witnesses.
The investigation will be as thorough as reasonably possible, but will be more limited than a police investigation, since the University does not have access to forensics, and cannot compel witnesses to give evidence. At the end of the investigation, the Conduct Investigator will decide whether, on the balance of probabilities, there is evidence that a breach of the Code of Student Conduct has occurred. If the Investigator finds that the Code has been breached, they will pass the case to either a Student Discipline Officer or the Student Discipline Committee for any disciplinary action to be taken.
Student Discipline Committee
If there is a meeting of the Student Discipline Committee, a member of staff will contact you to provide you with options for engaging with this stage of the process. For example, you could choose to attend the meeting and make a statement to the Committee (the student you have complained about would not be present at the same time unless you specifically ask for this); or you might prefer not to attend the meeting in person, and instead to provide a further written statement to the Committee. You will always also have the option of taking no further part in the process.
Student conduct investigations can be complex and involve speaking to multiple different parties. It can also take time to arrange a meeting of the Student Discipline Committee, where this is required.
Guidance for students accused of committing a hate crime
Being accused of committing a hate crime can be difficult and distressing. You may wish to seek support from the following services:
The Advice Place
The Advice Place have professional advisors who are experienced in supporting students involved in the conduct process and can provide support to those who are the subject of a complaint.
You can also access specialist support from the Student Counselling Service. Information on how to contact them and details about the support that they provide can be found on the Student Counselling website.