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Crime and victims

Hate crime

Hatred is a strong term that goes beyond simply causing offence or hostility. Hate crime is any criminal offence committed against a person or property that is motivated by an offender's hatred of someone because of their:

  • race, colour, ethnic origin, nationality or national origins
  • religion
  • gender or gender identity
  • sexual orientation
  • disability

Hate crime can take many forms including:

  • physical attacks – such as physical assault, damage to property, offensive graffiti, neighbour disputes and arson
  • threat of attack – including offensive letters, abusive or obscene telephone calls, groups hanging around to intimidate and unfounded, malicious complaints
  • verbal abuse or insults - offensive leaflets and posters, abusive gestures, dumping of rubbish outside homes or through letterboxes, and bullying at school or in the workplace

Our definition of a hate crime:

  • Any incident, which constitutes a criminal offence, which is perceived by the victim or any other person as being motivated by prejudice or hate.

Facts & figures

Nationally, in 2006-07, police reported 5,619 hate crimes in which someone was injured, 4,350 hate crimes without injury, and 28,485 cases of racially or religiously motivated harassment.

There were also 3,565 cases of criminal damage related to hate crimes.

The typical hate offender is a young white male (most homophobic offenders are aged 16-20, and most race hate offenders under 30).

The majority of hate crimes happen near to the victim's home while they are going about their daily business, and an offence is most likely to be committed between 3pm and midnight.

Most hate criminals live in the same neighbourhood as their victims.

(source Crime in England and Wales 2006-07)

What we’re doing about hate crime

We are working towards:

  • increasing confidence in the criminal justice system and in other agencies that deal with hate crime
  • increasing the proportion of victims or witnesses of hate crime who come forward to report what they've seen
  • increasing the proportion of hate crimes brought to justice
  • improving local responses to hate crime, particularly in areas that have disproportionate numbers of cases

We are working with other government departments, the police, and community groups to review our policies on hate crime, and will be launching more initiatives and measures related to this issue in the coming years.

The law

  • The Crime and Disorder Act 1998 created a number of new racially and religiously aggravated offences 
  • The Criminal Justice Act 2003 introduced tougher sentences for offences motivated by hatred of the victim’s sexual orientation (this must now be taken into account by the sentencing court as an aggravating factor, in addition to race or religious hate motivation).

The Racial and Religious Hatred Act

This law, which came into effect in 2007, makes it a criminal offence to use threatening words or behaviour with the intention of stirring up hatred against any group of people because of their religious beliefs or their lack of religious beliefs.

You can download and read the full act (new window) for more information.

What you can do about hate crime

If offenders are going to be punished, hate crimes must first be reported to the police.

If you’re uncomfortable about going directly to the police, you can report hate crime anonymously through one of the following organisations, which will also be able to provide you with practical and emotional support:

(Links will open in a new window)

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