What is a Hate Incident or Hate Crime?

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. These crimes or incidents are usually motivated by hostility or prejudice towards someone based on a personal characteristic. The five main characteristics are:

  • Race
  • Religion/faith
  • Sexual orientation
  • Disability
  • Gender-identity

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

What Types of Incidents can be a Hate Incident?

There are lots of different types of Hate Incidents. Here are some examples:

  • 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 for example on Facebook or Twitter
  • Harm or damage to things such as your home, pet, vehicle
  • Graffiti
  • Arson
  • Throwing rubbish into a garden

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, gender identity or sexual orientation. When something is classed as a hate crime, the judge can impose a tougher sentence on the offender. Incidents which are based on other personal characteristics, such as age or appearance, 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.

Examples of Hate Crimes

Hate crimes could be:

  • Assaults
  • Criminal damage
  • Harassment
  • Murder
  • Sexual assault
  • Theft
  • Fraud
  • Burglary
  • Hate mail

How Common is Hate Crime?

In 2012 there were an estimated 278,000 hate crimes for the five monitored strands.The most commonly reported motivating factor in these hate crime incidents was race, with an average of 154,000 incidents. The second most common motivating factor was religion - 70,000 incidents. The majority of hate crime incidents involved assault and vandalism.

Reporting a Hate Crime

Reporting makes a difference to you, your friends, and your community. By reporting hate crime when it happens, you can help stop it happening to someone else. You will also help the police to better understand the level of hate crime in your local area, and improve the way they deal with it.

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 wasnt directed at you. For example, you could be a friend, neighbour, family member, support worker or simply a passer-by.

If you have witnessed or experienced hate crime you can report it in a number of ways:

By phone

  • Call 101 or in an emergency dial 999.
  • For practical advice and support call 101 and ask to speak to your local hate crime team.
  • Call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

In person

  • Visit your local police station.
  • You can call into a third party reporting centre (i.e Registered Social Landlords offices).

Report online

  • Go to True Vision - A hate crime website set up by police forces from across the country.
  • CrimeStoppers online - An online form where you can provide information about crime anonymously. 

Role of the Police

The police take hate incidents and crimes seriously. You can be confident that they wont treat you worse because you might be, for example, Hindu, lesbian or have a learning disability. Some areas have special officers to look into hate crimes. They can give you expert advice.

Sources of further information