What is hate crime?
Hate crime is the name given to an offence where the victim has been targeted specifically because of ‘who they are’; hate crime is recorded under five strands and is defined as:
‘Any criminal offence that is targeted at a person because of hostility or prejudice towards their race, religion, sexual orientation, disability or transgender identity.’
Hate crime can have a huge impact on victims; often leaving them distressed and causing them to make changes to their lifestyle to try to stop it happening again. There are high levels of recurring offences for this type of crime with some victims being repeatedly targeted due to ‘who they are’. Victims may often suffer many incidents without reporting to the police or to any other agency.
 Home Office: ‘Action Against Hate – the UK Government’s plan for tackling hate crime, July 2016’
What is a hate incident?
Some people may experience a non-criminal hate incident. This is any incident which is not a criminal offence but which is perceived, by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by hostility or prejudice based on a person's actual or perceived race, religion, sexual orientation or transgender identity. Although a crime may not have been committed it is just as important to report this.
How do you report hate crime and hate incidents?
Hate crime can be reported in a number of ways:
- Through the Hertfordshire Police's website or by calling 101. In an emergency, you should dial 999.
- If you would like to report a hate crime but would prefer not to report directly to the police, you can do so at the national hate crime reporting national hate crime reporting website as well as a number of third party reporting centres in Hertfordshire.
- If you have been a victim of hate crime, you can get support from the victim care centre Beacon. You are able to access Beacon’s services even if you have not reported a crime to the police.
Types of hate crimes and hate incidents
Hate crimes and non-criminal hate incidents can occur in a number of ways:
- Physical violence – if you experience physical violence then this is likely to be a crime. There are a few laws that apply but it will depend on whether you were injured and then the severity of the injury. This could range from common assault to GBH (grievous bodily harm).
- Verbal abuse in public – verbal abuse, threats or ‘name calling’ are often common experiences for young people who are LGBTQ+. In this case it is not always clear if a crime has been committed but there are laws that protect people from verbal abuse. Any incidents should be reported so that they can be investigated further to see if a Public Order Offence has been committed.
- Incitement to hatred – we often hear about this in terms of racism, but what about inciting hatred towards the LGBTQ+ community or individuals? It is a crime to intentionally stir up hatred based on sexual orientation by using threatening words, behaviour or displaying written material. Examples are: leaflets being handed out on the street, graffiti and posting on websites or social media. Currently there is no specific crime of incitement towards transphobic hatred but there are other crimes which cover this. Crimes of this nature can be very difficult to balance against the right to freedom of speech but they should always be reported. Even if a crime has not taken place, there are ways in which you can be supported to help remove written offensive language, websites and speakers.
- Abuse through electronic communication – this is any form of electronic communication that you may receive abuse through, whether that is text, email or social media. This should be reported to the police as a hate crime, as well as to the social media sites or network providers.
- Harassment – this is where someone causes you alarm or distress on more than one occasion. Once reported this will normally be dealt with initially by serving a ‘harassment warning’. This will set out future action if the harassment continues, which is normally a much harsher penalty.
- Blackmail – it is a criminal offence for anyone to make a demand from you in return for not revealing compromising information about you, such as your sexual orientation or gender identity. As well as money, some blackmailers will disguise the demands as gifts. It is usually a bad idea to hand anything over as this will often result in more demands from the blackmailer. This should be reported to the police – if you do not feel comfortable or safe doing this, there are organisations who will be able to help at the bottom of our info & advice page.
- Refusal of goods or services – if someone refuses to serve you in a shop or restaurant, or refuses to provide you with facilities such as a hotel room, based on your sexual orientation or gender identity this is illegal under the 2010 Equality Act. However, this is not a criminal offence so the police would not get involved unless another offence took place such as verbal or physical abuse. It should still be reported though and there are organisations that may help to take this further or give you legal advice at the bottom of the info & advice page.