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.
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 and 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 are not, or because you have a disabled child.
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.
Hate incidents and hate crimes can take many forms. Here are 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, for example on Facebook or Twitter
- displaying or circulating discriminatory literature or posters
- harm or damage to things such as your home, pet, vehicle
- throwing rubbish into a garden
- malicious complaints for example over parking, smells or noise
On the other hand, below are examples of hate crimes:
- criminal damage
- sexual assault
- hate mail (Malicious Communications Act 1988)
- causing harassment, alarm or distress (Public Order Act 1986)
We encourage you to report any incidents, as then we can help to support you. You may decide to report an incident anonymously, which means that the incident will be logged for statistical purposes, however we are unable to take any direct action on anonymous reports.