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Hate crimes

What is a hate crime?

A hate crime is any crime that is motivated by hostility or prejudice, or that involves a demonstration of hostility, towards your:

  • religion (or lack of religious belief)
  • sexual orientation
  • disability
  • transgender identity
  • race or ethnicity

Hate crimes are illegal and always wrong. They may include verbal abuse, harassment, violence and damage to property.

Getting emotional and practical support

If you experience something you consider to be a hate crime, it’s important to remember it wasn’t your fault. They can be very frightening, especially because they’re linked to who you are. Support is available and it can help to talk to someone who understands.

Find organisations that can support you after a hate crime.

Reporting a hate crime

The police take hate crimes very seriously. They will believe you and treat you with kindness, as reporting these crimes makes a difference – to you, your friends, your family and your community.

You can report a hate crime if you’re a victim or a witness.

  • If it’s an emergency, call 999. Otherwise, you can call the police on 101 or report online.
  • You can ask a victim support service to report it for you. This is called a third party report. You can decide whether these services keep your identity anonymous or pass on your details to the police.

To help the police investigate your case, try to remember what happened and keep any evidence. You should note:

  • what you experienced, saw or heard before, during and after the incident
  • the date and time of the incident
  • the location of the incident

Evidence could include:

  • computer screenshots
  • CCTV videos
  • photographs
  • items that may contain fingerprint or DNA evidence

Sometimes, a single incident might not seem significant enough to report. But multiple incidents can build up over time, so make sure you keep a record of all the incidents you’ve experienced or witnessed. 

After reporting it to the police

Once you report a hate crime to the police, they will start an investigation.

You may be asked to give a statement. You can do this at a police station or at home if you feel more comfortable. Your statement may later be used in court if the case goes to trial, so try to include as much accurate information as you can.

Once the police have investigated, they decide whether to pass the case to the Crown Prosecution Service for a charging decision. Your case may then go to court for trial.

As the victim of a serious crime, you’re entitled to extra help from the police, courts and victim services. This could include:

  • arranging for a specialist support service to contact you
  • letting you know within 1 working day what’s happening with the suspect – for example, if they’re being released on bail
  • letting you know about special measures that could help you give evidence in court

You can read more about your rights in the Victims’ Code.

Glossary

Crown Prosecution Service

The Crown Prosecution Service presents criminal cases at court after they have been investigated by the police.

Special measures

The extra support a court can provide to help vulnerable or intimidated witnesses give their best evidence. These measures could include putting screens around the witness box.

Victims’ Code

The Victims’ Code explains the rights that everyone can expect to receive as a victim of crime. Different versions are available, including leaflets, an easy-read booklet, and the full code in English and Welsh.

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