Let’s Stop Hate Crime

Let's Stop Hate Crime

A short guide to help raise awareness for people affected by hate crimes.

1. What are hate incidents and hate crimes?

What are hate crimes?

Hate incidents and hate crimes are acts of violence or hostility directed at people because of who they are or who someone thinks they are. For example, you may have been verbally abused by someone in the street because you’re disabled or someone thought you were gay. If you’ve experienced a hate incident or hate crime you can report it to the police.

Read this page to find out more about hate incidents and hate crime.

What are hate incidents?

Other types of 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 one of the following things:
disability

  • race
  • religion
  • transgender identity
  • sexual orientation

This means that if you believe something is a hate incident it should be recorded as such by the person you are reporting it to. All police forces record hate incidents based on these five personal characteristics.
Anyone can be the victim of a hate incident. For example, you may have been targeted because someone thought you were gay even though you’re not, or because you have a disabled child.

Other personal characteristics

Some police forces also record hate incidents based on other personal characteristics such as age.
In particular, Greater Manchester Police now recognises alternative sub-culture hate incidents. These are incidents based on someone’s appearance and include Goths, Emos, Punks and other similar groups. This means they will also record any such incidents as a hate incident.

What type of incidents can be a hate incident?

Examples of hate crime

Hate incidents can take many forms. Here are examples of hate incidents:
verbal abuse like name-calling and offensive jokes

  • harassment
  • 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 for example on Facebook or Twitter
  • displaying or circulating discriminatory literature or posters
  • harm or damage to things such as your home, pet, vehicle
  • graffiti
  • arson
  • throwing rubbish into a garden
  • 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 offence is something which breaks the law of the land. 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

  • assaults
  • criminal damage
  • harassment
  • murder
  • sexual assault
  • theft
  • fraud
  • burglary
  • 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.

If you’re worried about the police not taking you seriously

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.

2. How to report a hate incident or hate crime

Reporting a hate crime

If you’ve experienced, or know someone who has experienced, a hate incident or hate crime you can report it to the police.

You can contact the police directly, or you can use an online reporting facility such as True Vision. There are also local organisations who can help you report the incident or crime.

Reporting to the police using the True Vision website

You can report a hate incident or crime online on the True Vision website. Once you’ve filled in the form on the website, it’s sent directly to your local police force. You can also use the self-reporting form which you must then send to your local police.

It’s important to give as many details as possible, as this helps the police deal with your case more effectively. If you want the police to investigate the incident, you need to provide your contact details and the best time to contact you.

You may be worried about the police contacting you at home. If this is the case, you can ask the police to contact you through someone you trust and who has agreed to provide their details. You still need to provide your contact details as well.

If you need help and support with reporting the incident, you can contact a Citizens Advice Bureau.

Useful information to include in your form

When describing the offender it’s useful to give general information such as age, height, build, gender, ethnicity and clothing. Also try to remember any particular features such as :

  • hair colour
  • glasses
  • jewellery or piercing
  • tattoos
  • facial hair
  • a particular accent
  • teeth
  • scars
  • birth marks

If a vehicle was involved, in addition to the make, model and colour, you may have noticed if it had stickers, sun shades or car seats. Did the car look old or new? Did it have any other marks or signs of damage?

If the incident involved damage to property, you should describe the damage or loss as well as the costs involved if possible. You can also take photos of the damage to show the police.

If the police don’t get back to you

If you’ve not heard from the police within 7 days you should contact them directly.

Reporting the incident directly to the police

You can report the incident directly to the police by visiting your local police station or by phone.
When you report the incident you should ask for the incident reference number, this will help you in any further dealings with the police.

If you don’t want to report the incident, you can ask someone else to phone the police on your behalf such as a friend or relative. You can also contact a Citizens Advice Bureau to help you phone the police.
You can find details of your local police station on the Police.UK website at
www.police.uk

Help dealing with the police

When you contact the police, you can ask to be interviewed at the police station, your home or some other place you have agreed on. For example, it may be possible for the police to interview you at your local Citizens Advice Bureau – if they allow this. In any case, it’s generally advisable for someone else to come with you. For example, you can ask a skilled adviser, friend or solicitor to come with you.

If you have difficulty with English

If you have difficulty speaking or understanding English, you may find it helpful to have an interpreter with you. You can ask the police to provide an interpreter.

You can also ask a friend or relative, or approach a local advice organisation such as the Citizens Advice Bureau.

If the police refuse to provide an interpreter, you can ask to see their policy on translators and interpreters and you may want to consider making a complaint.

Problems reporting a hate incident or hate crime

When you report an incident or a crime, the police may not treat it specifically as a hate incident or a hate crime. If you’re not getting the response you were hoping for, it can make you feel as if the police are not taking your concerns seriously.

What can you do if the police won’t accept something as a hate incident?

If you tell the police you think something is hate incident, they should record it as such. It doesn’t matter if the police officer dealing with the matter perceives it differently.

You don’t have to show evidence of prejudice or hostility to report a hate incident.

However, when the police investigate the incident they will have to find evidence of prejudice or hostility to charge the offender with a hate crime. The Crown Prosecution Service, who are responsible for prosecuting offenders, will also have to show this evidence in front of the judge when the case goes to court.

So, not every case which is reported will go to court. And even when a case goes to court, the offender may not be found guilty.

If you’re unhappy about the way the police have dealt with your case, you may want to make a complaint. You can complain in person at the police station or contact your local police force. You can also contact your local Professional Standards Department. Many local police forces also have online complaints forms.

Your local Citizens Advice Bureau will be able to help if you are unhappy with the response you receive from the police.

The police are treating the incident as anti-social behaviour

Some acts of anti-social behaviour are also hate incidents. However, hate incidents are not the same as anti-social behaviour.

The Crime and Disorder Act 1998 defines anti-social behaviour as acting in a way that causes or is likely to cause, harassment, alarm or distress to someone else. This includes aggressive, intimidating or destructive activity that damages or destroys another person’s quality of life.

Hate incidents happen because of hostility or prejudice based on disability, race, religion, sexual orientation or transgender identity. So, where acts of anti-social behaviour are motivated by hostility or prejudice, they become hate incidents. The police should therefore treat them as hate incidents rather than anti-social behaviour.

Sometimes hate incidents can be dealt with effectively using anti-social behaviour measures. However, where the behaviour is criminal, the police should always consider whether it’s a hate crime, or crime of any sort, and deal with it accordingly.

What can you do if you’re unhappy with the police’s response?

When you report a hate incident, the police will have to decide whether it’s a criminal offence. The police can only charge the perpetrator if a criminal offence has been committed. They also have to find evidence of hostility or prejudice to treat the offence as a hate crime.

After investigating, the police may decide not to charge the suspect if they consider there’s not enough evidence. If the police charge a suspect, it’s the Crown Prosecution Service who decide whether to prosecute or not.

If you’re unhappy about the way the police have dealt with your case, you may want to make a complaint. You can complain in person at the police station or contact your local police force. You can also contact your local Professional Standards Department. Many local police forces also have online complaints forms.

Your local Citizens Advice Bureau will be able to help if you are unhappy with the response you receive from the police.

Discrimination claim

If you feel the police has treated you unfairly – for example, by not dealing with your case appropriately – you may also have a discrimination claim under the Equality Act 2010. It’s unlawful for the police to discriminate against you in their work because of certain characteristics – for example, because of your race, religion, sexual orientation, transgender identity and disability.

3. Disability hate crime

If someone has been violent or hostile towards you because you’re disabled, you have been the victim of a hate incident.

Disability hate incidents can happen anywhere. Sometimes you may know the person who attacked you, sometimes hate incidents are carried out by strangers.

Read this page to find out more about disability hate incidents and hate crime and what you can do about it.

What is a disability hate incident?

Something is a disability hate incident if the victim or anyone else thinks it was carried out because of hostility or prejudice against disabled people.

This means that if you believe something is a hate incident, it should be recorded as such by the person you are reporting it to.

Can you be the victim of a disability hate incident even though you’re not disabled?

You can be the victim of a disability hate incident if someone believes you’re disabled even though you’re not.

You can also be the victim of a disability hate incident because of your association with someone who is disabled – for example, if someone targets you because you have a disabled child.

What type of incidents can be a disability hate incident?

Disability hate incidents can take many forms including:

  • verbal and physical abuse
  • teasing
  • bullying
  • threatening behaviour
  • online abuse
  • threatening or insulting texts
  • damage to property.

It can be a one-off incident or part of an ongoing campaign of harassment or intimidation.
Hate incidents are not only carried out by strangers. It could be carried out by a carer, a neighbour, a teacher or someone you consider a friend.

When is a disability hate incident also a hate crime?

When a disability hate incident becomes a criminal offence, it’s known as a disability hate crime. There are no specific disability hate crimes. Any criminal offence can be a disability hate crime, if the offender targeted you because of their hostility or prejudice against disabled people.

When something is classed as a disability hate crime, the judge can impose a tougher sentence on the offender under the Criminal Justice Act 2003.

Remember, the incident you have suffered may still be a crime even if it’s difficult to show it was carried out because of hostility based on disability.

What’s meant by a disability?

The Criminal Justice Act 2003 defines disability as any physical or mental impairment. This includes persons with physical or learning disabilities.

What can you do about a disability hate incident or crime?

If you’ve experienced a disability 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.

If you’re being 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.

When reporting the incident or crime you should say you think it was motivated by hostility or prejudice based on disability.

Your local Citizens Advice Bureau can help you with reporting a hate incident or crime.

Incidents at work

If you’ve experienced acts of hostility or harassment because of disability at work, you may have a discrimination claim under the Equality Act 2010.

Incidents at or near home

Many disability hate incidents happen near the victim’s home. For example, you may be repeatedly harassed or intimidated by neighbours or local youths. People may be throwing things in your garden or damaging your property. Sometimes, disputes with neighbours escalate into verbal or physical abuse.
You can report these incidents to the police. There are also other things you can do to stop these acts.
You can get your local authority or landlord to take action under their anti-social behaviour powers. You can also take civil court action to get compensation and an order to stop the perpetrator continuing with the behaviour under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997.

Incidents at or near school

When bullying is motivated by hostility or prejudice based on disability, it can be a hate incident. Bullying in itself is not a criminal offence. But if it’s serious enough, it could also be a hate crime. Bullying includes cyber bullying.

If you’ve experienced bullying, the school should deal with it under their behaviour policy. They should also co-operate with the police and social services if they become involved.
If the school fails to deal with the bullying, you may have a discrimination claim under the Equality Act 2010. You may also be able to challenge the schools failure to act under their public sector equality duty.

4. Racist and religious hate crime

What are racist or religious hate incidents?

Something is a racist or religious hate incident if the victim or anyone else thinks it was carried out because of hostility or prejudice based on race or religion.

This means that if you believe something is a hate incident, it should be recorded as such by the person you are reporting it to.

Who can be the victim of a racist and religious hate incident?

Anyone can be the victim of a racist or religious hate incident. For example, someone may wrongly believe you’re part of a certain racial group. Or someone may target you because of your partner’s religion.

What does racial or religious group mean?

A racial group means a group of people who are defined by reference to their race, colour, nationality or ethnic or national origin. This includes:

  • Gypsies and Travellers
  • refugees and asylum seekers
  • Jews and Sikhs.

A religious group means a group of people who share the same religious belief such as Muslims, Hindus and Christians. It also includes people with no religious belief at all.

What type of incidents can be a racist or religious hate incident?

Racist or religious hate incidents can take many forms including:

  • verbal and physical abuse
  • bullying
  • threatening behaviour
  • online abuse
  • damage to property

It can be a one-off incident or part of an ongoing campaign of harassment or intimidation.

Hate incidents are not only carried out by strangers. It could be carried out by a carer, a neighbour, a teacher or someone you consider a friend.

When is a racist or religious hate incident also a hate crime?

When racist or religious hate incidents become criminal offences, they are known as hate crimes. Any criminal offence can be a racist or religious hate crime, if the offender targeted you because of their prejudice or hostility based on race or religion.

There are two main types of racist and religious hate crime:

  • racially or religiously aggravated offences under the Crime and Disorder Act 1998
  • any other offences for which the sentence can be increased under the Criminal Justice Act 2003 if they are classed as a hate crime

In both cases, when a criminal offence is classed as a racist or religious hate crime, the judge can impose a tougher sentence on the offender.
Remember, the incident you’ve suffered may still be a crime even if it’s difficult to show it was carried out because of hostility based on race or religion.

What can you do about a racist or religious hate incident?

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.

If you’re being repeatedly harassed by the same person or group of people it’s best to report all the incidents to help the police get the full picture.

When reporting the incident or crime you should say you think it was motivated by hostility or prejudice based on race or religion.

Your local Citizens Advice Bureau can help you with reporting a hate incident or crime.

Incidents at work

If you’ve experienced acts of hostility or harassment because of race or religion at work, you may have a discrimination claim under the Equality Act 2010.

Incidents at or near home

Many hate incidents happen near the victim’s home. For example, you may be repeatedly harassed or intimidated by neighbours or local youths. People may be throwing things like rubbish in your garden or damaging your property.

You can report these incidents to the police. There are also other things you can do to stop these acts.
You can get your local authority or landlord to take action under their anti-social behaviour powers. You can also take civil court action to get compensation and an order to stop the perpetrator continuing with the behaviour under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997.

Incidents at or near school

When bullying is motivated by hostility or prejudice based on race or religion, it can be a hate incident. Bullying in itself is not a criminal offence. But if it’s serious enough, it could also be a hate crime. Bullying includes cyber bullying.

If you’ve experienced bullying, the school should deal with it under their behaviour policy. They should also co-operate with the police and social services if they become involved.

If the school fails to deal with the bullying, you may have a discrimination claim under the Equality Act 2010. You may also be able to challenge the schools failure to act under their public sector equality duty.