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Hate crime: what is it? How do I report it?

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What is a hate crime?

A hate crime is any criminal offence which is perceived by the victim to be motivated by hostility or prejudice based on a person’s actual or perceived: race, religion, sexual orientation, disability, transgender identity or gender.

Hate crime takes many shapes and forms and is not limited to physical violence. If someone harasses you, and / or shouts abusive language at you because of who you are, then this is also a hate crime. Posting offensive, abusive, and hurtful content about you or to you on social media platforms is also considered a hate crime.

All of these crimes could be hate crimes if motivated by prejudice or hate:

  • Physical attacks such as assaults
  • Vandalism, criminal damage, graffiti or arson
  • Verbal abuse or abusive gestures
  • Cyberbullying
  • Offensive communications
  • Threats of an attack
  • Financial exploitation
  • Sexual harassment

Why should I report a hate crime?

Reporting hate crime allows us to gather more intelligence and information about this type of crime, which will help us to understand this type of behaviour and help us to prevent it from happening again.

What happens when I report a hate crime?

Hate Crime

Where can I report a hate crime?

You can report a hate crime by calling 101, always dial 999 in an emergency.

You can also report a hate crime via our online reporting platform on our website.

If you don’t feel like you can talk to the police, all of the following organisations will be able to support you if you are a victim of hate crime:

Frequently asked questions about hate crime:

What kind of support is available for children in schools who are victims of hate crime? The Race Relations Act 1976 states that schools and governing bodies have a duty to ensure students don’t face any form of racial discrimination, including attacks and harassment. Schools will have policies and measures in place to combat racism and discrimination between children at school.

We would encourage you to speak to teachers, representatives of the school as a first point of call. You can make a complaint to the police if the school does not comply. Avon and Somerset Police has school liaison officers who will be able to advise about the procedures.

What qualifies as hard proof of committing a hate crime? What happens in a he said / she said scenario?  We encourage people to report hate crime and officers can look at evidential possibilities. There is also support available from the police and partner agencies to support victims of hate crime when they report.

Is misogyny a hate crime?  In 2017, Avon and Somerset Police became the third police force in the country to recognise gender-based hate crime. Being targeted because of your gender is classified as a hate crime in our force area, it is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. If you are a victim of gender-based hate, we urge you to report this to us.

What is Avon and Somerset Police doing to tackle hate crime?  Building relationships and improving confidence in policing with communities most at risk of being targeted by hate crime is key to tackling the issue.

We work extremely closely with partner organisations, as well as community associations to better understand the complex cultural needs of different communities, and subsequently improve our ability to deliver the kind of policing required by these communities.

Avon and Somerset Police also has a ‘hate crime’ champions programme, which is aimed at building a group of people across the organisation who will have enhanced understanding of the law, powers, police and best investigative practice. These hate crime champions help us to build confidence among our diverse communities by working closely with our diversity staff networks and by supporting officers to investigate hate crimes to a very high standard ensuring victims are fully supported and appropriately updated.

What should I do if I don’t want to talk to the police about a hate crime? We work closely with a number of partner organisations and charities who specialise in hate crime and who will be able to help you. Please see above the list of alternative services you can contact if you are a victim of hate crime. Remember, you are not alone and there is always someone who is available to assist you if you are a victim of hate crime. Even if you aren’t sure if you have been a victim of hate crime, we encourage you to contact the police, or an alternative support service, who will investigate the case and provide help and support.