If you've experienced an act of violence or hostility because of who you are or someone thinks you are, you may have been the victim of a hate incident or hate crime. Hate incidents and hate crime happen because of prejudice or hostility based on a person's disability, race, religion, sexual orientation or transgender identity.
The law considers hate incidents and hate crime to be particularly serious. This section explains what you can do if you've experienced, or know someone who has experienced, a hate incident or crime.
What are hate incidents and hate crime?
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.
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.
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 the following things:
- 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.
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?
Hate incidents 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.
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 Crime include the following acts:
· Abuse, Harassment, Intimidation, Threats. These can be verbal or via the Internet – social media for example, over the telephone or by mail.
· Malicious complaints made against you. Remarks made between others but designed to be overheard by you. Displaying or distributing offensive material.
· Criminal damage to your property or possessions, vandalism, arson or graffiti
· Burglary, theft or fraud
· Murder, assaults (including sexual), attacks, or other physical abuse such as spitting.
Where you believe they are because of:
Ethnic Origin, Place of Birth, Religion, Gender, Sexual Preference, Disability – mental or physical.
It doesn’t matter whether the offender’s information is accurate, you may suffer abuse because of a disability you do not actually have or for a religion you are not a member of for example, this is still a Hate Crime.
The Police have a technical distinction between a Hate Incident (no criminal offence committed) and Hate Crime (a criminal offence is involved). You should report the incident anyway, the Police will decide if a criminal act has been committed as well. The Police have a duty to record all Hate Incidents whether the law has been broken or not.
Reporting a Hate Crime
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, the local authority also have powers to act in some circumstances.
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.
How to report a hate crime or incident
You can report a hate crime or incident by contacting the Police by dialling 101 (Text phone 18001 101) or calling at your local Police Station. In an emergency you can also call 999 and ask for the Police.
You can also report a hate crime or incident at:
Citizens Advice Bolton which is a third party Hate Crime Reporting centre.
We can be found at;
26/28 Mawdsley Street,
Tel: 0808 801 0011 or 03444 889 622
You can also report online at: www.report-it.org.uk
You can report incidents anonymously if you wish. This still assists the Police in knowing areas of concern and where they should concentrate resources.
What information should I include in a report?
The on line reporting form tells you what information you need to give when reporting the Hate Crime. Here are some additional tips on useful information to include.
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
· Jewellery or piercing
· Facial hair
· A particular accent
· 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 or possession’s, you should describe the damage or loss as well as the costs involved if possible. You can also take photos of the damage.
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. You should record dates and times, where the incident occurred and any persons you can identify as being involved as well as a description of what happened.
Hate Crime is recorded separately by the Police and has a high priority. Judges and magistrates will also take account of hate motivation when sentencing offenders.
If you feel in immediate danger or under threat, you should always ring 999 and ask to talk to the Police.