Hate Crime

This page contains information about hate crime, which put simple is a crime motivated by hatred or ill-will because of someone’s real or perceived race, religion, sexual orientation, disability or gender identity.

This page brings together existing information and guides regarding the crime and provides information in the final section about how to report a hate crime, and seek support if you or someone you know has been affected.


  • What is hate crime?
  • Who does hate crime affect
  • The law on hate crime
  • The voluntary and charity sector and hate crime
  • Support if you have been affected by hate crime

What is hate crime?

Hate crime is defined by law as:

‘Any criminal offence which is perceived by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by hostility or prejudice based on a person’s race or perceived race; religion or perceived religion; sexual orientation or perceived sexual orientation; disability or perceived disability and any crime motivated by hostility or prejudice against a person who is transgender or perceived to be transgender.’

Some non-criminal incidents which are motivated by hate and ill-will are classified as hate incidents, this could include spreading rumours or being refused service.

The Scottish Government has its own policies on hate crime, as it is a devolved responsibility. You can find out more about hate crime laws in Scotland here.

As it says on the Met Police website, ‘in most crimes it is something the victim has in their possession or control that motivates the offender to commit the crime. With hate crime it is ‘who’ the victim is, or ‘what’ the victim appears to be that motivates the offender to commit the crime.’

Hate crime can fall into one of three main types: physical assault, verbal abuse and incitement to hatred. Hate crime can take place in-person or online – more information about what constitutes an online hate crime can be found here.

The police record hate crimes on the basis of five categories:

  • Disability
  • Race or ethnicity
  • Religion or belief (which includes non-belief)
  • Sexual orientation
  • Gender identity

Some police forces also record hate incidents based on other personal characteristics such as age. In particular, Greater Manchester Police now recognises alternative sub-culture hate incidents, for example crime motivated by someone’s appearance or presentation. There is also an ongoing campaign to make crimes motivated by misogyny into a hate crime.

Here you can find the government, Met Police and Crime Commission’s information about hate crime.

Who does hate crime affect

Anyone can be affected by a hate crime because – as the legal definition highlights – hate crime is perceived by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by a real or perceived identity characteristic.

Every year, thousands of people are affected by hate crime. And as the charity, Victim Support states, ‘nobody should have to live with the fear and anxiety that this crime causes. It can also affect other people in your community, especially if they are seen to be part of the same group in society.’

In the UK, reported hate crimes doubled between 2013 – 2019 and increased by a further 8% from 2018/19 – 2019/20. Over the last few years, there have been spikes in reported hate crimes around the time of particular events such as Brexit, Black Lives Matter protests and the Coronovirus pandemic. For example, the Guardian reported that ‘the number of racially or religiously aggravated offences in England and Wales rose in June and July, most likely linked to Black Lives Matters rallies and far-right counter-protests.’ And during the Coronavirus pandemic, anti-Asian hate crimes increased.

The law on hate crime

GALOP includes links to a number of different laws covering hate crime here. These laws cover existing crimes which are motivated by hatred of someone real or perceived identity and there are ‘stirring up hatred’ offences (which refer to ‘hate speech’).

Hate crime can be reported directly to the police or via an online portal. However, many people experience barriers to reporting hate crime, as Amnesty International explored in their report Hate Crime: Identifying and Dismantling Barriers to Justice.

More information about reporting hate crime and seeking support is available at the end of this page.

The voluntary and charity sector and hate crime

Hate crime laws protect you when you’re at work, so gaining an understanding of hate crime and hate incidents can enable you and your colleagues to know your rights. UNISON’s Tackling Hate Crime Incidents guide may be a useful resource for you.

Voluntary and charity sector organisations may work directly or indirectly with people who have experienced or are at risk of experiencing hate crime. Some choose to register as a Hate Crime Reporting Centre, also known as a ‘third party’ reporting centre, so that members of the community including service-users, clients or customers can report hate crime with their support.

Whether your organisation’s work is directly linked to tackling hate crime or not, an awareness of what hate crime is, how to recognise it and how to offer support will benefit the communities you work with. You may want to consider:

  • Becoming a third party hate crime reporting centre or find out where you closest centres are. You can find posters, logos for your website and guidance on hate crime here.
  • Organising hate crime awareness and active bystander training for staff within your organisation. Active bystander training enables you to recognise and intervene in instances of hate crime in a safe and effective way as explained in this this Communities Inc resource. You can find information about being an active bystander for young people
  • Researching the rates of and nature of hate crime affecting the communities you work with, whether that’s in a particular area or with a particular group. Depending on the nature of your work, and your aims, you may want to read existing information or conduct your own surveys or focus groups. UK Parliament’s Hate Crime Statistics briefing is a useful overview and provides Police Force Area Data.

Support if you have been affected by hate crime

Media coverage of hate crime can focus on incidents of overt violence. However, there are other forms of hate crime which can unfortunately be ‘normalised’ or seem less ‘serious’; verbal abuse or derogatory language that many people experience can still be a crime.

If you have been affected by hate crime you can report it directly to the police or use the TrueVision online reporting form. Citizens Advice provide more information and advice on reporting a hate crime here.

You can use Relay UK to report if you can’t hear or speak on the phone, you can type what you want to say: 18001 then 101

You can use Relay UK with an app or a textphone. There’s no extra charge to use it. Find out how to use Relay UK on the Relay UK website.

Whether or not you report your experience is up to you. If you choose not to report, you are still entitled to support and advice from the following services. Further guidance for those affected by hate crime can be found here.


Victim Support provides services to help people affected by all types of crime. They provide a 24/7 confidential support line for people affected by crime and traumatic events regardless of whether they have reported it to the police or when it occurred.

Stop Hate UK supports people affected by all forms of hate crime in locations across the UK. They work alongside local strategic partnerships to tackle hate crime and discrimination, encourage reporting and support the individuals and communities it affects. They also run a number of helplines for people affected by hate crime.

The TrueVision reporting portal includes a page of organisations who can help.


Scope are the disability equality charity in England and Wales. They provide practical information and emotional support when it’s most needed and campaign relentlessly to create a fairer society. They provide information and advice on disability hate crime here.

Disability Rights UK provides information, advice and support for disabled people. They represent disabled people’s rights through campaigning and consultancy. They also run helplines for disabled students and a welfare rights helpline for member organisations. They cover information about disability hate crime here.

Race or ethnicity

CORE (formerly the Coalition of BME VCS organisations) brings together many of the UK’s leading black and minority ethnic voluntary and community organisations for the promotion of race equality. Many of the organisations involved can provide support and advice regarding hate crime based on race or ethnicity in your area.

The Runnymede Trust is the leading independent race equality think tank. They generate intelligence to challenge race inequality in Britain through research, network building, leading debate, and policy engagement.

Religion or belief

Tell MAMA (Measuring Anti-Muslim Attacks) is a secure and reliable service that allows people from across England to report any form of Anti-Muslim abuse. We have created a unique portal where you may address your concerns and record any incident that you experience as a result of your Muslim faith or someone perceiving you to be Muslim.

CST is an organisation protecting the Jewish Community. They help those who are victims of antisemitic hatred, harassment or bias. CST also promotes good relations between British Jews and the rest of British society, represents British Jews on issues of racism, antisemitism, extremism, policing and security as well as facilitating jewish life.

Sexual orientation and/or gender identity

GALOP can help if you experience homophobia, transphobia or biphobia anywhere, including at home, in public, at work, online or in cruising sites. Our hate crime casework service can give you advice, support and help.

Stonewall campaigns for LGBT+ inclusion and rights. They provide an information service here and provide a list of LGBT-inclusive organisations for general support throughout the Coronavirus pandemic here.


Age UK offer information and support at a national and local level to inspire, enable and support older people. They have an advice line running all year round.