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What is hate crime?

Hate crimes and hate incidents are when someone is abusive, harasses you, makes threats or is violent towards you because of your identity.

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Hate crimes can happen at home, school or college, work, on the streets or on the internet. Anyone can be the victim of a hate crime, and it can be really frightening as you are being targeted because of who you are, or who the person committing the crime thinks you are.

 

What do the police class as hate crime?

There are five categories agreed nationally, and every police service in England and Wales records these as hate crimes. Any crime that targets the following identities is a hate crime. 

  • disability
  • race or ethnicity including culture, nationality and language
  • religion or belief
  • sexual orientation (such as being lesbian, gay or bisexual) 
  • gender identity (for example, if you are born a female but live life as a male).

It is an option for any individual police service to add additional categories. 

How do hate crimes happen?

Hate crimes can happen at home, school or college, work, on the streets or on the internet. Anyone can be the victim of a hate crime, and it can be really frightening as you are being targeted because of who you are, or who the person committing the crime thinks you are.

Hate crime can include: 

  • threats, bullying or verbal abuse (such as name calling) 
  • online or cyber-bullying, including getting unkind or threatening messages through text, email or social networking
  • antisocial behaviour – when other people’s actions make you feel harassed, scared or unhappy. 
  • assault – when someone physically hurts you or threatens to physically hurt you.
  • criminal damage or graffiti
  • stalking and harassment, which is when someone repeatedly tries to make contact with you in a way that makes you feel scared, upset or threatened.

If you are a victim of hate crime, it’s important to remember that what’s happening isn’t your fault, and you haven’t done anything wrong. No one has the right to hurt you, scare you or upset you because of who you are or what you believe, and there are things you can do to keep yourself safe, and to try to stop the crimes happening again.

If the crime leads to a trial, the courts can also give a longer sentence than for a similar crime with no hate motive

What can I do?

Hate crime can make you feel worried, sad or angry, especially if you feel like you’re trying to deal with this all on your own. However, lots of children and young people find that it can help if they talk to someone. Some things you can do are:

  • Write down things that have happened soon after they’ve happened, including times, dates and (if possible) descriptions of the people involved.
  • Keep evidence, such as any notes or letters, and don’t delete abusive text messages, emails or voicemails. If you decide to report the crime, these can be used as evidence and may help to identify the person or people harming you. Even if you don’t want to report it now, this could be useful later on.
  • Tell an adult you trust – this could include a teacher, a family member, your youth worker, social worker or support worker. It can be difficult to know how to have this conversation; we have some tips on asking for help.
  • With an adult you trust, you could develop a safety plan that would help you choose how best to keep yourself safe.
  • Talk to your friends. A good friend will listen to you and may help you speak to an adult. 
  • Think about reporting it to the police, or report it anonymously online with through Crimestoppers or ‘Report-it’.
  • If you have friends or family who are suffering in the same way as you, they should think about reporting the crime too; the more people reporting it, the more likely it is to be stopped.
  • If you are at immediate risk of getting hurt, call 999.
  • Speak to your local Safer Neighbourhood team who are police in the local community. You can do this by looking at your local police website for more information. 

If you are worried about a friend, we have some tips on how you can start the conversation and get them the right help.

Why do some people commit hate crimes?

Being a victim of a hate crime is not your fault, and it’s not ok for somebody to act this way towards you. People may commit hate crimes because they:

  • cannot accept those who are different to them
  • have been taught or brought up with these beliefs
  • are different themselves and are too scared to admit it 
  • feel threatened by certain groups in the community 
  • have negative thoughts from a past experience and are taking it out on you or someone you know.

Is it a hate crime if I have been targeted for another reason, like the way I dress?

Some police forces also record hate incidents based on other personal characteristics such as age. Greater Manchester Police now recognises alternative sub-culture hate incidents. These are incidents based on someone’s appearance and interests, and include Goths, Emos, Punks and other similar groups. This means they will also record any such incidents as a hate incident.

Who can help me?

You & Co – you can talk to one of our support workers on a one-to-one basis, and we can offer you help and support whether you decide to report hate crime to police or not. We can give you advice on how crime can affect you and how to cope with it, what to do and what to expect if you decide to report a crime to police, and how to move on from being a victim of crime. You can find out about the support available nearest to you on this website.

StopHateUK – this national organisation works to challenge all forms of hate crime and discrimination, and has a 24-hour help line where people experiencing hate crime can get advice and support; call 0800 138 1625.

Sophie Lancaster Foundation – Following the murder of Sophie Lancaster (just because she dressed differently), her family wanted to ensure a lasting legacy to their beautiful daughter and so The Sophie Lancaster Foundation was established and it became a registered charity in 2009.

Citizens Advice Bureau – they have specially trained volunteers who can give you advice on your rights.

Crimestoppers – if you want to provide information about a crime without talking to the police, you can contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Report-it – this organisation has an online reporting form and lists of agencies who can support you.

ChildLine – they offer 24-hour support for young people on a range of issues; call 0800 1111.

The Mix – this website provides information and support for 16-25 year olds on a whole range of issues, including rape and sexual assault as well as safe sexual relationships. Get confidential help by telephone, email, text or webchat, for young people under 25; call 0808 808 4994.

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