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Wednesday, 3 October 2023

Hate crime

The police and the courts treat hate crime very seriously. Hate crime is upsetting for victims and their friends and families, and creates hatred in communities. Find out more about the different types of hate crime, and how to report them.

What is a hate crime?

If you believe a crime was targeted at someone, even in part, because of prejudice or hostility about their life, then it’s treated as a hate crime. This means that if you, your family or friends believe it was a hate crime, then the police will treat it as such.

Hate crime can take many forms. You don’t have to be physically attacked or hurt to be a victim of hate crime. It may involve:

  • physical attack
  • verbal abuse
  • domestic abuse
  • harassment
  • damage to your property
  • bullying
  • graffiti

You don’t have to be a member of the group at which the hostility is targeted. In fact, anyone can be a victim of a hate crime.

Types of hate crime

Hate crime is any crime that is targeted at a person or group of people because of prejudice or hostility about:

  • race - including culture, nationality and language
  • religion and belief
  • sexual orientation
  • transgender identity – including anyone who is transsexual, transgender, transvestite or who holds a Gender Recognition Certificate
  • disability – including physical or mental impairment, or learning disabilities

What the law says

The police will treat hate crime as a priority.

The courts can also impose a more severe sentence than for a similar crime with no hate motive.

Reporting a hate crime

If you think you’ve been a victim of hate crime, you should report it to the police as soon as possible. Some police forces have dedicated officers to deal with particular types of hate crime.

By reporting it when it happens to you, you may be able to prevent it happening to someone else. You will also help the police understand the extent of hate crime in your local area so they can respond to it better.

If you don’t feel comfortable reporting the crime directly to the police, you may be able to use an independent reporting scheme. These schemes are usually run by your local council or voluntary groups. You can report the crime directly to them and they will pass the details to the police for you.

You can also report hate crimes online, if you don't want to report them directly to the police. The True Vision website, which is owned by the Association of Chief Police Officers, has an online reporting form (use the True Vision link below). The police take hate crime very seriously and they'll record and investigate the offence even if you don't want to give your details. But if the police can't contact you, their investigation and ability to prosecute the offenders are severely limited.

Going to court

If you need it, you can get help in giving your evidence to the police and when you go to court. This help is called special measures. These special measures include:

  • communication aids
  • giving evidence through a specially trained person
  • giving evidence by video

If you feel you might need this kind of help, just tell the police when you report the crime.

Additional links

Victims of crime - find help

If you're a victim of crime, you can now search for services in your area that can give you help and support

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