Hate crime is the term used to describe an incident or crime against someone based on a part of their identity.
There are five categories of ‘identity’ when a person is targeted because of a hostility or prejudice towards their:
- race or ethnicity
- religion or belief (which includes non-belief)
- sexual orientation
- gender identity.
Victim Support also recognises crimes targeted at alternative sub-cultures (such as Goth) as a form of hate crime.
Hate crime can be any criminal or non-criminal act such as graffiti, vandalism to a property, name calling, assault or online abuse using social media.
Experiencing hate crime can be a particularly frightening experience as you’ve been targeted because of who you are, or who or what your attacker thinks you are. Unlike non-identity related offences, the attack is very personal and specifically targeted, which means it’s less likely to be a random attack.
Hate incidents can feel like crimes to people who suffer them and often escalate to crimes or tension in a community. You can report such incidents, but the police can only prosecute when the law is broken. However, the police can work with other organisations to prevent the situation escalating.