Hate incidents and hate crime
The police and Crown Prosecution Service have agreed a common definition of hate incidents. They say something is a hate incident if the victim or anyone else think it was motivated by hostility or prejudice based on:
- transgender identity
- sexual orientation
This means that if you believe something is a hate incident it should be recorded as such by the person to whom you are reporting it. All police forces record hate incidents based on these five personal characteristics.
Examples of hate incidents:
- verbal abuse like name-calling and offensive jokes
- bullying or intimidation by children, adults, neighbours or strangers
- physical attacks such as hitting, punching, pushing, spitting
- threats of violence
- hoax calls, abusive phone or text messages, hate mail
- online abuse; eg: Gaydar, Grindr, Facebook, Twitter
- displaying or circulating discriminatory literature or posters
- harm or damage to things such as your home, pet, vehicle
- malicious complaints, for example over parking, smells or noise.
When is a hate incident also a hate crime?
When hate incidents become criminal offences they are known as hate crimes - a criminal who breaks the law. Any criminal offence can be a hate crime if it was carried out because of hostility or prejudice based on disability, race, religion, transgender identity or sexual orientation. When something is classed as a hate crime, the judge can impose a tougher sentence on the offender under the Criminal Justice Act 2003.
Incidents which are based on other personal characteristics, such as age and belonging to an alternative subculture, are not considered to be hate crimes under the law. You can still report these, but they will not be prosecuted specifically as hate crimes by the police and the Crown Prosecution Service.
Examples of hate crimes
- verbal abuse or threats
- criminal damage
- sexual assault
- hate mail (Malicious Communications Act 1988)
- causing harassment, alarm or distress (Public Order Act 1988).
What can you do about a hate incident or crime?
If you’ve experienced a hate incident or crime you can report it to the police. You can also report a hate incident or crime even if it wasn’t directed at you. For example, you could be a friend, neighbour, family member, support worker or simply a passer-by.
When reporting the incident or crime you should say whether you think it was because of disability, race, religion, transgender identity, sexual orientation or a combination of these things. This is important because it makes sure the police record it as a hate incident or crime.
You may be unsure whether the incident is a criminal offence, or you may think it’s not serious enough to be reported. However, if you are distressed and want something done about what happened, it’s always best to report it. Although the police can only charge and prosecute someone when the law has been broken, there are other things the police can do to help you deal with incident.
It’s also important to keep in mind that some hate crimes start as smaller incidents which may escalate into more serious and frequent attacks - so it’s always best to act early.
If you’re being repeatedly harassed, should you report all the incidents?
If you've experienced hate crime, it may have been just one isolated incident. But sometimes, you may be repeatedly harassed by the same person or group of people. It’s best to report all the hate incidents you experience to help the police get the full picture. If you’re in this situation, it may be a good idea to keep a record of the incidents to help you when you contact the police.↑ Back to top