Hate crime

Our plan to tackle hate crime brings together activities by a wide range of government departments to meet three specific objectives.

Hate crime action plan: Challenge it, Report it, Stop it

Challenge it, Report it, Stop it is our blueprint to combat hate crime, by working with local agencies, voluntary organisations and our independent advisory group to meet three key objectives:

  • preventing hate crime happening by challenging the attitudes and behaviours that foster hatred, and encouraging early intervention to reduce the risk of incidents escalating
  • increasing the reporting of hate crime that occurs by building victims' confidence to come forward and seek justice, and working with partners at national and local level to ensure the right support is available when they do
  • working with the agencies that make up the Criminal Justice System to improve the operational response to hate crime. We want a more effective end-to-end process, with agencies identifying hate crimes early, managing cases jointly and dealing with offenders robustly

Part of the Government’s role in Challenge it, Report it, Stop it includes supporting local areas in their efforts to tackle hate crime. 

What is hate crime?

Hate crime involves any criminal offence which is perceived, by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by hostility or prejudice based on a personal characteristic. The definition covers five main strands, in particular - disability, gender-identity, race, religion or faith and sexual orientation.

Legislation has been in place for a number of years to protect victims from such hate crimes, including offences for those who intend to stir up racial hatred, and those who commit racially and religiously aggravated offences or engage in racist chanting at football matches. New criminal offences have also been introduced in recent years to reflect the seriousness of hate crime, including enhanced sentencing.

On 13 September 2012, the Home Office published statistics on hate crimes recorded by the police in England and Wales for the first time. In 2011/12, 43,748 hate crimes were recorded by the police, of which:

  • 35,816 (82 per cent) were race hate crimes
  • 1,621 (4 per cent) were religion hate crimes
  • 4,252 (10 per cent) were sexual orientation hate crimes
  • 1,744 (4 per cent) were disability hate crimes
  • 315 (1 per cent) were transgender hate crimes

Race hate crimes accounted for the majority of hate crimes recorded in all police forces.

Disability-related harrassment - government action

The government's response to the Equality and Human Rights Commission's (EHRC) report on disability-related harrassment has now been published. The response is available on the Office for Disability Issues website.

The EHRC published 'Hidden in Plain Sight' in September 2011, setting out the findings of its inquiry into disability-related harassment. The report made recommendations for government departments and their agencies based on the inquiry's findings, including a number of recommendations concerning the criminal justice system.

The government will continue to analyse how the recommendations can best be implemented in practice, and looks forward to continuing to work closely with the Commission to tackle hate crime and discrimination in all their forms.

Improved recording of hate crime 

Research suggests that hate crime is hugely under-reported. Some victims may be reluctant to come forward, for example, for fear of attracting further abuse or because they don't believe the authorities will take them seriously.

The government is keen to address this issue, and has made a committment to improve the recording of hate crime. The long term goal, however, is to achieve a reduction in the actual incidence of hate crime.

Tackling hate crime

In the new approach to cutting crime, professionals are being relieved of top-down micro-management and performance targets, while the police are accountable to the communities they serve. Elected police and crime commissioners, street-level crime maps and regular beat meetings will all focus police forces on the issues that matter to local people, and allow them to develop the strategies that reflect local needs.

Getting the response to hate crime right depends on deep local knowledge of victims, offenders and communities, so the lead must come from professionals at the front line, working with the voluntary sector and communities to respond to local issues and priorities.

International action on hate crime

Hate crime is also a global issue and our responsibility to share our experience, ideas and good practice should also extend to partners overseas. We will therefore continue to push for action on hate crime at international level, through a range of organisations, including the United Nations, the European Union and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

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