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What is a hate crime?

We are running a campaign to highlight the issue of hate crime; emphasising the importance of reporting hate crimes, how to identify them and what impact they can have on their victims.

hate crime poster

A hate crime is any criminal offence that is motivated by a prejudice or hate. Anyone can be a victim of hate crime; you don’t need to be a member of a minority group. For example, you may have been targeted because someone thought you were gay even though you're not, or because you have a disabled child.

The aim of our campaign is to help encourage victims and witnesses of hate incidents - whether it is verbal, physical or on social media - to report them to the police or other relevant organisations. Improved recording of these crimes will enable a better understanding and help identify and improve services for victims in communities where hate crimes are evident.

What are hate incidents and hate crime?

hate incident is when the victim or anyone else thinks an incident, such as bullying or abuse, was motivated by hostility or prejudice based on one of the following things:

  • Disability (including physical disabilities, sensory impairments, learning disabilities and mental health issues)
  • Race, skin colour, ethnic origin, nationality (including against gypsies and travellers)
  • Religion or belief (or lack of religious belief)
  • Sexual orientation (including homophobia)
  • Gender identity (including resentment of transgender people, transsexuals and transvestites)

When hate incidents become criminal offences they are known as hate crimes. Any criminal offence can be a hate crime if it was carried out because of hostility or prejudice based on disability, race, religion, transgender identity or sexual orientation.

Superintendent Will White, force lead for hate crime, says: “Victims of hate crimes are being targeted because of their disability, race, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity. It is our responsibility to ensure these crimes are dealt with and that we work closely with other organisations to support victims. It is often difficult to identify a hate crime and we hope this campaign will not only encourage victims to report it but for local communities to identify what a hate crime is and help eradicate them from our community. This campaign is part of our drive to improve our service to address hate crime in Avon and Somerset.”

Reporting hate incidents and hate crime

Anyone with information about a hate incident is asked to report it either by calling 999 in an emergency, 101 in a non-emergency or in person at a police station.

We would prefer to speak to you on the phone or in person, however if contacting us online is the safest way for you to get in touch, you can complete our online reporting form.

If you don’t want to contact us directly please use an independent agency or report it online on the True Vision website