Government sets out what constitutes ‘hate crime’
A major new campaign has been designed to reassure communities at risk that it takes hate crime seriously.
The Home Office launched the public awareness initiative on Wednesday (October 31) after new statistics showed that police forces in England and Wales recorded 94,098 hate crimes in the last year – a rise of 17 per cent.
Earlier this month, the Government updated its Hate Crime Action Plan, which included asking the Law Commission to review legislation.
Now the Government will distribute a number of videos and posters alongside the strapline: “If you target anyone with verbal, online or physical abuse because of their religion, race, sexual orientation, disability or transgender identity – you may be committing a hate crime. It’s not just offensive. It’s an offence.”
Each poster and video will feature a different offender and a different hate crime occurrence. This includes:
- A lesbian couple being verbally abused at a bar;
- Racist graffiti being sprayed on the shop of a foreign couple;
- An offender posting hate-filled messages about a transgender woman online;
- A Muslim woman being aggressively shouted at to remove her headscarf and a Jewish man being abused in the street; and
- A disabled man being verbally abused on a bus.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) advised the Government on the campaign, especially regarding incidents in which the offender is not aware that their behaviour is criminal.
Chris Long, Chief Crown Prosecutor and CPS Hate Crime lead, said: “The CPS works closely with the police to prosecute thousands of cases every year. More than two thirds of offenders are now receiving tougher, uplifted sentences from the courts – the highest levels ever recorded.”
The Government claims the campaign will reassure people belonging to communities at risk of hate crime as well as publicly re-establish boundaries to prevent people being targeted on the basis of their identity.
Mr Long added: “We take hate crime very seriously and are committed to properly supporting victims. People should be in no doubt – if you believe you have been a victim of hate crime you should report it to the police.”
Minister for Countering Extremism Baroness Williams said: “Committing a hate crime goes against all the shared values we hold and can have a traumatic impact on victims.
“The campaign gives clear examples of hate crime and sends a message that not only is this behaviour unacceptable, it is a criminal offence.
“This is just one part of the ongoing work of the Government to tackle hate crime to ensure this sickening behaviour is stamped out.”
Mike Ainsworth, Chairman of the Independent Advisory Group on Hate Crime and Director of London Services for Stop Hate UK, added: “We know two key facts about hate crimes. The impact on victims is devastating and life-changing and perpetrators often escalate in the seriousness of their offending.
“This campaign is important in emphasising the corrosive impact these crimes have on communities.”