Hate Crimes

Hate crimes and hate incidents

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.

A hate crime is defined 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.’

A hate incident is any incident which the victim, or anyone else, thinks is based on someone’s prejudice towards them because of their race, religion, sexual orientation, disability or because they are transgender.

Not all hate incidents will amount to criminal offences, but it is equally important that these are reported and recorded by the police.

Evidence of the hate element is not a requirement. You do not need to personally perceive the incident to be hate related. It would be enough if another person, a witness or even a police officer thought that the incident was hate related.

Types of hate crime

Hate crime can fall into one of three main types: physical assault, verbal abuse and incitement to hatred.

Physical assault

Physical assault of any kind is an offence. If you’ve been a victim of physical assault you should report it. Depending on the level of the violence used, a perpetrator may be charged with common assault, actual bodily harm or grievous bodily harm.

Verbal abuse

Verbal abuse, threats or name-calling can be a common and extremely unpleasant experience for minority groups.

Victims of verbal abuse are often unclear whether an offence has been committed or believe there is little they can do. However, there are laws in place to protect you from verbal abuse.

If you’ve been the victim of verbal abuse, talk to the police or one of our partner organisations about what has happened. You’ll find a list of them on our How to report hate crime page.

Even if you don’t know who verbally abused you, the information could still help us to improve how we police the area where the abuse took place.

Incitement to hatred

The offence of incitement to hatred occurs when someone acts in a way that is threatening and intended to stir up hatred. That could be in words, pictures, videos, music, and includes information posted on websites.

Hate content may include:

  • messages calling for violence against a specific person or group
  • web pages that show pictures, videos or descriptions of violence against anyone due to their perceived differences
  • chat forums where people ask other people to commit hate crimes against a specific person or group

How to report a hate crime 

 By reporting hate crime, you may be able to prevent it from happening again.

Is it an emergency?

Does it feel like the situation could get heated or violent very soon? Is someone in immediate danger? Do you need support right away? If so, please call 999 now. If you have a hearing or speech impairment, use our textphone service 18000 or text us on 999 if you’ve pre-registered with the emergencySMS service.

Report it online

True Vision

True Vision is a national police scheme to help victims report hate crime online.

Average completion time: 15 minutes

https://www.met.police.uk/advice/advice-and-information/hco/hate-crime/how-to-report-hate-crime/ 

Report by phone

Call 101

Our national, non-emergency telephone number is staffed 24/7. Ask to speak to your Community Safety Unit. You can report a hate crime directly to them or simply ask them for support or advice.

Visit a police station

If you’d prefer to speak to an officer in person, we can provide a safe and comfortable environment at any of our police stations.

Report hate material you’ve seen online

If you’ve seen something on a website or social media that promotes hatred or violence against a particular group, use our online form to report it.

Average completion time: 15 minutes

Start

Other help

We understand that you may not be ready to talk to us about what has happened. The charities, groups and organisations below can offer support, advice and ways to report the incident without having to talk directly to the police.

Other useful links

Crimestoppers  
A national charity with a free helpline for reporting crime anonymously. 

Tell MAMA 
A national project supporting victims of anti-Muslim hate and monitoring anti-Muslim incidents.

Community Security Trust (CST)
A charity protecting British Jews from antisemitism and related threats.

Galop 
A national charity providing advice and support to members of the LGBT community.

Stop Hate UK
An independent charity that operates a free 24hr phone service for victims and witnesses.

Inclusion London 
A charity promoting equality for London’s Deaf and Disabled people.

Support for victims and witnesses of crime

In this section:

1. What to expect as a victim or witness of a crime

2. What happens after you report a crime?

3. Victims’ Right to Review scheme

4. Giving a witness or victim statement

5. Going to court

6. What happens after the trial?

7. Victim and witness support organisations

As a victim of crime or someone who has witnessed a crime, there are things you can expect from the police and criminal justice system.

In these pages we’ll explain what those things are and how you can access support.

What to expect as a victim of crime

The Code of Practice for Victims of Crime lays out what happens from when a crime is reported through to what happens after a trial, if there is one. The Code of Practice explains what your rights are.

The Code of Practice for Victims of Crime is also available in an Easy Read format.

Under the Code of Practice, a ‘victim’ is someone who:

  • has been harmed, physically, mentally, emotionally, or financially by a crime
  • is a close relative of someone who has died as a result of a crime

You may also have rights under the Code of Practice if you are:

  • the parent or guardian of someone under the age of 18 who has been a victim of a crime
  • the person representing someone who is a victim of a crime who cannot communicate for themselves either because of a disability or because they have been injured as the result of the crime

As the victim of a crime you have the right to:

  • be treated equally, fairly and with respect by everyone
  • make informed choices that are respected
  • have your privacy respected
  • be offered help to understand the criminal justice process 

What to expect as a witness to a crime

Witnesses of crime are protected under the Witness Charter. The charter explains the support you can get and how you should be treated. 

All witnesses of crime have the right to:

  • be treated equally, fairly and with respect by everyone
  • a main contact who’ll update you about the case and support you
  • an assessment to check what your needs are, including special measures if you’re a vulnerable or intimidated witness
  • be given information about the court and court processes

To find out more about how witnesses and victims of crime are treated and other services available, visit the UK government’s website.

If you’re a victim or witness to a crime that hasn’t been reported to the police

It’s important to report all crimes to the police. It helps us to bring offenders to justice and stop more crimes from happening.

If you don’t report a crime to us you can still get help from Victim Support.

What happens after you report a crime?

In this section:

1. What to expect as a victim or witness of a crime

2. What happens after you report a crime?

3. Victims’ Right to Review scheme

4. Giving a witness or victim statement

5. Going to court

6. What happens after the trial?

7. Victim and witness support organisations

Every crime is different so every investigation is different, but any investigation starts with the same steps to make sure we have all the information we need.

On this page we’ll explain what happens after you report a crime, when you’ll get a crime reference number and when we’ll contact you.

Assessing your report

First, we’ll make sure that we’re the right police force to investigate the crime. For example, if it took place in a train station, British Transport Police (BTP) would be the right force; we’d send them your report and they’d investigate.

Once we know we’re the right police force to investigate, we’ll give you a crime reference number. How quickly we can do this depends on the type of crime and the number of other authorities involved in the case.

We’ll then look at the information we’ve got and decide if we can investigate your report further. If we decide we can’t investigate your report, we’ll contact you to explain why.

Our decision is based on four key factors:

  • vulnerability of the victim (eg is the victim in danger?)
  • seriousness of the crime
  • likelihood of solving it
  • best use of our resources 

If we can investigate further, we’ll take some initial steps. These could include:

  • talking to witnesses
  • assessing the crime scene
  • checking CCTV or video footage 
  • searching our intelligence database (to see if other crimes have happened in the area, or if we hold information related to the case)

After we’ve done an initial investigation

There are two possible outcomes:

  1. We’ll close the investigation
  2. We’ll move forward with the investigation

When we’ve made a decision, we’ll contact you to let you know.

Closing an investigation

If we close the investigation, it’s probably because we’ve completed our initial steps and there are no other leads we can follow at that time. 

Sometimes we get new information or discover new evidence, in which case we can reopen the investigation and update you.

Whether or not this happens, your report and the information we have is valuable. It helps decide where and when we use police resources to track down and prevent crime.

Moving forward with an investigation

We’ll assign an investigating officer to you. They’ll be your contact during the investigation, answering your questions and keeping you updated.

If you need to give a statement, they’ll talk you through it. 

In the unlikely event you need to go to court, they’ll introduce you to a member of the Witness Care Unit who’ll guide you through each step of the process.

Updating us on a crime

If you have new information or evidence about an existing crime, you can contact us to update an existing case or report online.

Requesting an update on a crime

If you want an update on a crime that’s already been reported, contact us to request an update on a crime report online.

 

Victims’ Right to Review Scheme

In this section:

1. What to expect as a victim or witness of a crime

2. What happens after you report a crime?

3. Victims’ Right to Review scheme

4. Giving a witness or victim statement

5. Going to court

6. What happens after the trial?

7. Victim and witness support organisations

The Victims’ Right to Review (VRR) Scheme gives victims the right to ask for a review of a police decision not to charge a suspect.

VRR applies to cases where a suspect has been identified and interviewed under caution. This happens either after they’ve been arrested or because they’ve volunteered to be interviewed.

Cases you can ask to be reviewed

You have the right to request a review if the police decide:

not to charge someone

or

where the police decide that the case doesn’t meet the test for the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to decide to charge someone

VRR only applies where the decision is made not to charge or not to pass the case to the CPS to make a decision to charge someone.

It doesn’t cover decisions on whether a crime is recorded or whether an investigation into a crime can continue. If the CPS decides not to charge someone, their website explains what you can do.

Cases that can’t be reviewed

VRR doesn’t apply to cases where:

  • a suspect hasn’t been identified and interviewed
  • only some of the charges are brought against some of the suspects
  • a positive decision has been made about someone else in connection with the incident. This could include a range of outcomes. For example, community resolutions or a caution, through to charge and a court appearance
  • the suspect is charged with a different crime from the one that was recorded and complained about by the victim. For example, the suspect is charged with common assault but an offence of actual bodily harm was recorded
  • the case has been closed
  • the victim withdraws their complaint, or refuses to cooperate with the investigation, so police decide not to charge or to refer the case to the CPS

Sometimes an investigation into an offence is ongoing, so even though police have made a decision on whether to charge someone, a VRR consideration may be postponed until the investigation is complete.

The scheme applies to any decision made on or after 1 April 2015.

If your request to review relates to the CPS VRR scheme, you can request a review on a decision made on or after 5 June 2013. As this is a CPS scheme, the right to review lies with them. Visit the CPS website for more information.

Who can ask for a review and when

You must request a review within three months of the decision not to charge.

If the case qualifies under the scheme, any victim of a crime can request a review of the case.

Other people can apply on behalf of a victim. These include: 

  • close relatives of someone who has died as a result of a crime
  • the parent or guardian of a victim who is under the age of 18
  • someone who is representing a victim who has a disability or who has been badly injured as the result of a crime which means they can’t represent themselves
  • a business

You can ask someone to act on your behalf, such as a solicitor or Member of Parliament (MP). If you do, we will need written confirmation that they have permission to act on your behalf.

How to apply for a review

To request a review of a police decision not to charge, email us:

  • your full name
  • how you would like us to contact you (by phone or by post)
  • a contact phone number and/or email address
  • your full address and postcode
  • what the offence is (quote the offence as worded on your letter or email from us)
  • the date the crime happened
  • any reference you have been given (eg crime reference number)
  • if you are not the victim, the victim’s name and your relationship to them

What happens next

We aim to contact people within 10 working days to let them know we have received their request.

An officer, who wasn’t involved in the case, will be assigned to review the case. The officer’s role is not to review the previous decision, but to take a fresh look at the evidence and to make their own decision.

A review is usually completed within 30 working days. In complex or sensitive cases, it may take longer. You will be given regular updates.

Outcomes of reviews

There are six potential outcomes of a review:

  1. the new officer reviewing the case agrees with the first decision
  2. the new officer disagrees with the first decision and the suspect is charged by the police, or the decision to charge is sent to the CPS
  3. the original decision is overturned and the suspect dealt with out of court (an out of court disposal). This is a way of resolving an investigation for offenders of low level crime and anti-social behaviour.
  4. the new officer disagrees with the decision and the case is sent to the CPS for a decision to charge.
  5. the police decide they need to investigate further so the new officer can make a decision. 
  6. the new officer disagrees with the decision but the statute of limitations has run out so nothing more can be done. 

We will contact you to let you know the outcome.

If you’re not happy with the decision, you can apply to the High Court for a judicial review.

Giving a witness or victim statement

In this section:

1. What to expect as a victim or witness of a crime

2. What happens after you report a crime?

3. Victims’ Right to Review scheme

4. Giving a witness or victim statement

5. Going to court

6. What happens after the trial?

7. Victim and witness support organisations

If you’re the victim or witness of a crime, you may be asked to make a witness statement.

This is your written or video recorded account of what happened to you, what you saw, heard or know about the crime. An officer will ask you questions to find out exactly what happened or what you know.

We’ll try to arrange a convenient time and place for you to give your statement. It could be at a police station, your home or at work.

If you have difficulty understanding or speaking English, you can ask for an interpreter. You can also ask for the translation of any documents you need to read in court or to add to your statement.

When you make a statement the officer will:

  • explain why you need to make a statement
  • ask if you need help to make the statement
  • let you read it to check that it’s correct, or ask someone else to read your statement back to you
  • change anything you’re not happy with
  • ask if there’s any other information you want to include
  • ask you to sign your statement 
  • explain what will happen next

When you sign a witness statement you’re agreeing that the statement is true. This means what you’re saying in your statement is true to the best of your knowledge.

Your witness statement may be used as evidence in court.

You don’t have to give a statement but you might still be asked to go to court and say what you know.

Victim Personal Statement (VPS)

If you’re a victim, as well as giving a witness statement, you can also give a Victim Personal Statement (VPS). This lets you explain, in your own words, how the crime has affected you physically, emotionally, financially or in any other way.

If someone has been found guilty, the court will consider your VPS when they’re deciding how to punish them for the crime.

You can make a VPS if:

  • you’re giving a witness statement or evidence by video recorded interview
  • you’re vulnerable (under 18 years old, have a physical or mental health disability)
  • you’ve been intimidated (frightened or threatened) by someone involved in the case or someone linked to someone involved in the case
  • you’ve been a victim of the most serious crime (rape or other sexual assault, domestic abuse, hate crime, attempted murder) or have been targeted repeatedly

If none of these apply to you, you can still ask to make a VPS.

If the defendant is found guilty, you can ask to read out your VPS in court or get someone to read it for you.

The court will consider your VPS before sentencing an offender, whether it’s read out or not.

Going to court

In this section:

1. What to expect as a victim or witness of a crime

2. What happens after you report a crime?

3. Victims’ Right to Review scheme

4. Giving a witness or victim statement

5. Going to court

6. What happens after the trial?

7. Victim and witness support organisations

Only a small number of cases end up in court, but as a victim or witness of a crime if you’re asked to give evidence in court, you must go. 

You’ll only have to go to court if the defendant (the person accused of the crime):

  • denies the charge and pleads ‘not guilty’; or
  • pleads guilty but denies a part of the offence which might affect the sentence they’re given

Find out more about how the courts work.

Preparing for going to court

If you’re asked to give evidence in court, we can make sure you get help and support.

We’ll introduce you to a member of the Witness Care Unit.

This person will be your contact during the trial. They’ll:

  • answer any questions you have
  • give you all the information you need
  • make sure you’re prepared

They can arrange a court visit before the trial so you can see what the courtroom looks like. They’ll also explain where key people might sit and what happens on the day of the trial.

On the day, you may be able to arrive through a different entrance to the defendant and wait in a separate area.

Special measures

If you’re feeling vulnerable or are afraid of the offender, or if a child or young person is giving evidence, the court may be able to provide ‘special measures’, these are:

  • giving evidence from behind a screen or by a live link from another room
  • trained professionals, called intermediaries, who can help to explain things
  • giving evidence in private, with no press or public allowed in the courtroom
  • communication aids (eg alphabet boards, speech systems) 

To find out more about going to court as a victim or witness, visit the Crown Prosecution Service. And there’s information for witnesses at Citizens Advice.

For those attending court in Scotland, the above services are provided by the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service. For more information visit the Scottish Government’s website or the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service

What happens if I don’t go to court?

If you have any concerns about going to court, you must tell the person who asked you to go as soon as possible. They can help explain things to you and look at what support you can get.

If you won’t go to court, you may get a ‘witness summons’ from the court. A witness summons says you have to go to court. 

If you still fail to go to court without a good reason, you could be ‘in contempt of court’ and you may be arrested.

Expenses for going to court

You can claim expenses when you go to court as a:

  • prosecution witness (from the CPS)
  • defence witness (from the defence lawyer)

Your employer doesn’t have to pay you for your time off work.

Prosecution witnesses

You can claim expenses from the CPS for travel, meals, drinks, loss of earnings and childcare.

If you’re not sent an expenses form before the trial, ask for one from a court usher or someone from the Witness Care Unit.

Defence witnesses

If the court usher doesn’t give you an expenses form, ask the court or the defence lawyer if you can claim expenses for your time in court.

Returning property

When an item is no longer needed as evidence or as part of the investigation, you have the right to get it back as soon as it’s no longer required. 

 What happens after the trial?

In this section:

1. What to expect as a victim or witness of a crime

2. What happens after you report a crime?

3. Victims’ right to review scheme

4. Giving a witness or victim statement

5. Going to court

6. What happens after the trial?

7. Victim and witness support organisations

After the trial, the Witness Care Unit will tell you the outcome of your case. If the defendant is found:

  • not guilty, this means the charge against the defendant couldn’t be proven beyond a reasonable doubt  
  • guilty, the judge or magistrates will decide on their sentence

Why a sentence is given will be explained to you. If the defendant appeals against their conviction or sentence, you’ll be told about the appeal and its outcome.

Appealing against a sentence

If you think a sentence is too low, you can ask for it to be reviewed by the Attorney General’s Office. You need to request a review, in writing, within 28 days of the court’s sentencing decision.

For more information on appeals visit the UK government’s website or the CPS

Victim Contact Scheme (VCS)

You’ll be asked if you want to join the Victim Contact Scheme if:

  • you’re the victim of a violent or sexual crime

    and
  • the offender is sentenced to 12 months or more in prison (or kept in hospital for treatment under the Mental Health Act 1983)

You’ll get a letter from the National Probation Service (NPS) asking if you want to join the Victim Contact Scheme. If you join you’ll be given a Victim Liaison Officer who’ll let you know about any changes in the offender’s sentence, for example if they’re moved to an open prison, or how and when they’ll be released.

You won’t be told where the offender is being held.

The Victim Contact Scheme can also speak for you at the offender’s Parole Board hearing. They can give your feedback on any ‘licence conditions’, the rules the offender must follow if and when they’re released on parole, for example not contacting you and your family.

If you decide not to join the VCS when you’re asked about it but later change your mind, or if you’ve not been asked but think you want to join, you can email the Victim Contact Scheme.

Restorative justice

As a victim, you may be able to take part in ‘restorative justice’, if the offender pleads guilty.

Restorative justice lets victims of crime tell the offender how the crime has affected them, gives the offender the chance to explain why they committed the crime and is a chance for both to talk about ways to put things right.

This can be a face to face meeting or a letter, recorded interview or video.

Restorative justice is used for any type of crime and at any stage of the criminal justice process, including if the offender is serving a prison sentence.

For more information visit the Restorative Justice Council.

If you think your rights as a victim or witness haven’t been met

You can complain if you’re not happy with a service or can’t get a service you need. You can complain directly to the service (eg make a complaint to the police or the CPS).

If you’re not happy with what they say, you can make a complaint to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman.

How victims of crime can apply for compensation

If you’re the victim of a crime that’s left you injured, or with lost or damaged property, you can apply for compensation

What happens after the trial?

In this section:

1. What to expect as a victim or witness of a crime

2. What happens after you report a crime?

3. Victims’ right to review scheme

4. Giving a witness or victim statement

5. Going to court

6. What happens after the trial?

7. Victim and witness support organisations

After the trial, the Witness Care Unit will tell you the outcome of your case. If the defendant is found:

  • not guilty, this means the charge against the defendant couldn’t be proven beyond a reasonable doubt  
  • guilty, the judge or magistrates will decide on their sentence

Why a sentence is given will be explained to you. If the defendant appeals against their conviction or sentence, you’ll be told about the appeal and its outcome.

Appealing against a sentence

If you think a sentence is too low, you can ask for it to be reviewed by the Attorney General’s Office. You need to request a review, in writing, within 28 days of the court’s sentencing decision.

For more information on appeals visit the UK government’s website or the CPS

Victim Contact Scheme (VCS)

You’ll be asked if you want to join the Victim Contact Scheme if:

  • you’re the victim of a violent or sexual crime

    and
  • the offender is sentenced to 12 months or more in prison (or kept in hospital for treatment under the Mental Health Act 1983)

You’ll get a letter from the National Probation Service (NPS) asking if you want to join the Victim Contact Scheme. If you join you’ll be given a Victim Liaison Officer who’ll let you know about any changes in the offender’s sentence, for example if they’re moved to an open prison, or how and when they’ll be released.

You won’t be told where the offender is being held.

The Victim Contact Scheme can also speak for you at the offender’s Parole Board hearing. They can give your feedback on any ‘licence conditions’, the rules the offender must follow if and when they’re released on parole, for example not contacting you and your family.

If you decide not to join the VCS when you’re asked about it but later change your mind, or if you’ve not been asked but think you want to join, you can email the Victim Contact Scheme.

Restorative justice

As a victim, you may be able to take part in ‘restorative justice’, if the offender pleads guilty.

Restorative justice lets victims of crime tell the offender how the crime has affected them, gives the offender the chance to explain why they committed the crime and is a chance for both to talk about ways to put things right.

This can be a face to face meeting or a letter, recorded interview or video.

Restorative justice is used for any type of crime and at any stage of the criminal justice process, including if the offender is serving a prison sentence.

For more information visit the Restorative Justice Council.

If you think your rights as a victim or witness haven’t been met

You can complain if you’re not happy with a service or can’t get a service you need. You can complain directly to the service (eg make a complaint to the police or the CPS).

If you’re not happy with what they say, you can make a complaint to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman.

How victims of crime can apply for compensation

If you’re the victim of a crime that’s left you injured, or with lost or damaged property, you can apply for compensation

Victim and witness support organisations

1. What to expect as a victim or witness of a crime

2. What happens after you report a crime?

3. Victims’ Right to Review scheme

4. Giving a witness or victim statement

5. Going to court

6. What happens after the trial?

7. Victim and witness support organisations

Victim Support

A national charity dedicated to helping anyone affected by crime to cope with and recover from their experience. It offers services not only to victims and witnesses, but also to their friends and family.

If it doesn’t have an office in your area, it can point you to local help.

It also runs My Support Space, a free, safe, secure and confidential space where you can choose how you want to be supported. Register for My Support Space – it’s quick and easy.


Citizens Advice Witness Service

A national charity and network of local charities offering confidential advice online, over the phone, and in person, for free.

If you’re a witness at a criminal court in England or Wales, you can get free and independent support from the Citizens Advice Witness Service. It doesn’t matter who you’re a witness for, you can still get help.


Victim and witness information

A website that helps victims and witnesses of crime in England and Wales. It has information on what happens after reporting a crime, the people you might meet, the support you should get and how to complain if something goes wrong.

Local support

London Victim and Witness Service

If you’re a victim or witness of crime in London you can use Victim Support’s free and confidential service via the London Victim and Witness Service. The website also includes information about specialist services for children and young people.

 

 

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