I thank the Deputy for his question and his interest in my Department's work in the important area of hate crime. My Department is currently reviewing the Prohibition of Incitement to Hatred Act 1989, and that review is examining the efficacy of the legislation and what amendments might be required in order to ensure it is effective and fit for purpose in a modern democracy. The public consultation on the Act to which the Deputy refers is due to commence shortly and will be published on the Department's website.
Separately, the Department is undertaking research into hate crime (offences under the general criminal law, such as assault or criminal damage, that are committed with a hate or bias motivation), to learn from the approaches taken in other jurisdictions. That separate research project is well under way. This research will be completed in Q4 of this year and the results will help develop new approaches to ensure hate crime is addressed effectively in this jurisdiction.
Taken together, this work will significantly advance our understanding of what is needed to ensure that legislation in this important area protects and supports those who are targeted by expressions and acts of hatred. There is widespread public interest in reforming our approach to hate crime in this jurisdiction and this is something I welcome. I will consider the outcomes of all of the exercises which are now taking place in my Department on this subject, and will draw on this evidence to bring forward the necessary proposals for change.