Hate Crime – advice for all

Hate incidents and hate crime are acts of violence or hostility directed at people because of who they are or who someone thinks they are.

Anyone can be the victim of a hate incident, for example, if someone is verbally abused in the street because they are disabled or someone thought they were gay.

Anyone who experiences a hate incident or hate crime can report it to the police.

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

What are hate incidents?

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 these five personal characteristics:

  • 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.

Other personal characteristics
Some police forces also record hate incidents based on other personal characteristics such as age. 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.

Find out more on the GMP website at www.gmp.police.uk

Hate incidents can take many forms, for examples:

  • verbal abuse like name-calling, teasing and offensive jokes
  • harassment
  • bullying or intimidation by children, adults, neighbours or strangers
  • physical abuse or attacks such as hitting, punching, pushing, spitting
  • threats of violence or threatening behaviour
  • 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 damage to property, 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.

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. these can still be reported but 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 1986).

Go to the Stop Hate UK for more information on hate crime on their website at www.stophateuk.org

What can you do about a hate incident or crime?

If you have 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
If you are unsure whether the incident is a criminal offence, or think it may not be serious enough to be reported; but you are distressed and want something done about what happened, it is always best to report it. Although, the police can only charge and prosecute someone when the law has been broken, there are other things they can do to help  deal with the incident.

It is also important to keep in mind that some hate crimes start as smaller incidents which then escalate into more serious and frequent attacks – so it is always best to act early.

If you’re being repeatedly harassed, should you report all the incidents?
If you have 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 is best to report all the hate incidents you experience to help the police get the full picture. If you are in this situation, it may be a good idea to keep a record of the incidents to help you when you contact the police.

Reporting a hate incident or crime 

Visit the Citizens Advice website at www.citizensadvice.org.uk/how-to-report-a-hate-incident-or-hate-crime/ for advice and support, including what to do if you have problems reporting a hate incident or hate crime.

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

You can report a hate incident or crime on the True Vision website at www.report-it.org.uk where there is also an easy read reporting form

Disability hate crime

If someone is violent or hostile towards you because you are disabled, you have been the victim of a hate incident. Something is a disability hate incident if you, or anyone else, thinks it was carried out because of hostility or prejudice against disabled people.

Disability hate incidents can happen anywhere:

  • you may know the person who attacks you (a carer, neighbour, teacher or someone you consider a friend) or they may be a stranger
  • you can be the victim of a disability hate incident if someone believes you’re disabled even though you’re not
  • you can be the victim of a disability hate incident because of your association with someone who is disabled – for example, if you have a disabled child.

Disability hate incidents can any of the forms listed above and can be a one-off incident or part of an ongoing campaign of harassment or intimidation.

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 is 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.

Reporting a disability hate incident
If you have 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 was not directed at you. For example, you could be a friend, neighbour, family member, support worker or simply a passer-by.

If you are being repeatedly harassed by the same person or group of people, it is 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.

Disability Rights UK have more information on disability hate crime on their website at www.disabilityrightsuk.org

Call the Stop Learning Disability Hate Crime helpline on 0808 802 1155 for support and information on learning disability hate crime. The helpline is open 24 hours a day.

The Stop Hate UK website has more information at www.stophateuk.org

Mencap has information on learning disability hate crime on it website at www.mencap.org.uk

Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) have prosecution guidance about Disability Hate Crime and other crimes against disabled people on their website at www.cps.gov.uk/disability-hate-crime-and-other-crimes-against-disabled-people-prosecution-guidance

Racist and religious hate crime

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.

Anyone can be the victim of a racist or religious hate incident. For example, someone may wrongly believe you are part of a certain racial group. Or someone may target you because of your partner’s religion. Racist or religious hate incidents can take any of the forms listed above.

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:

  • Roma, 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.

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:

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.

The incident you have suffered may still be a crime even if it is difficult to show it was carried out because of hostility based on race or religion.

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

For more information on antisemitic hate crime visit the CST (Community Security Trust) website at www.thecst.org.uk 

Sexual orientation and transgender identity hate crime

If someone has been violent or hostile towards you because of your sexual orientation, this is known as a homophobic hate incident.

Hostile or violent incidents because of your transgender identity are known as transphobic hate incidents.

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

What is a homophobic or transphobic hate incident?
Something is a homophobic or transphobic hate incident if the victim or anyone else thinks it was carried out because of hostility or prejudice based on sexual orientation or transgender identity.

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

Sexual orientation and transgender identity refer to people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT).

Anyone can be the victim of a homophobic or transphobic hate incident. You can be the victim of a homophobic or transphobic hate incident if someone believes you are a LGBT person even though you are not. You can also be the victim of a hate incident because of your association with members of the LGBT communities.

Homophobic and transphobic hate incidents can take any  of the forms listed above and 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 homophobic or transphobic hate incident also a hate crime?
When a homophobic or transphobic hate incident becomes a criminal offence, it’s known as a hate crime. There are no specific homophobic or transphobic hate crimes. Any criminal offence can be a hate crime, if the offender targeted you because of their prejudice or hostility against LGBT people.

When someone is charged with a homophobic or transphobic 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 is difficult to show it was carried out because of hostility based on sexual orientation or transgender identity.

If you have experienced a homophobic or transphobic 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 sexual orientation or transgender identity.

For more information visit the:

  • Equality & Human Rights Commission (EHRC) website for a definition of transgender identity at www.equalityhumanrights.com
  • Gender Identity Research & Education Society (GIRES) website for support and information on transphobic hate crime at gires.org.uk
  • Stonewall website for more information on homophobic hate crime, at www.stonewall.org.uk

Incidents at work

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

Find out more about discrimination at work at www.citizensadvice.org.uk/law-and-courts/discrimination/

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 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.

Find out more about anti-social behaviour at www.citizensadvice.org.uk/problems-where-you-live and locally at manchester.gov.uk

Incidents at or near school

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

If you have 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.

Find out more about bullying at school at www.citizensadvice.org.uk/sorting-out-school-problems/
and discrimination in education at www.citizensadvice.org.uk/discrimination-in-education/

The public sector equality duty

The the Equality Act 2010 says public authorities must comply with the public sector equality duty. This is in addition to their duty not to discriminate against you.

The duty aims to make sure public authorities think about things like discrimination and the needs of people who are disadvantaged or suffer inequality, when they make decisions about how they provide their services and implement policies.

Find out more at www.citizensadvice.org.uk/discrimination/public-sector-equality-duty/what-s-the-public-sector-equality-duty/

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