Reporting a hate crime or hate incident to the police

This advice applies to England. See advice for See advice for Northern Ireland, See advice for Scotland, See advice for Wales

If you’ve experienced a hate crime or hate incident, you can report it to the police. You can also report it if you saw a hate crime happen to someone else.

If you’re not sure if what happened was a hate crime, you can check if something is a hate crime.

When you report the incident, the police will record what happened. They’ll usually only investigate the incident if a crime has happened - for example, if you’ve been assaulted. 

The police might also investigate if you’ve experienced more than one hate incident - for example, if someone keeps harassing you. If you’re in this situation, you should report each incident to the police so they have a record.

If you don’t want to go to the police yourself, there are other ways you can report it.

In an emergency, you should call 999.

Preparing to report a hate crime or incident

It’s a good idea to contact a hate crime support service before you report the incident to the police.

The support service can help you work out what to say in your report. This will help the police be successful if they investigate the crime.

After you report the incident, the support service can also help you contact the police about your case.

You can find your nearest support service by checking a list of hate crime support services on the True Vision website.

You can also look online - try searching for the name of your local area and the words “hate crime support services”.

If you’re still struggling to find a support service in your area, talk to an adviser.

What to say when you report a hate crime or incident

The police will tell you what information you need to give when you report the incident.

It’s important to give as many details as possible - this will help the police investigate your case.

You’ll need to describe the person responsible for the hate incident - they’re known as the ‘offender’. When you describe the offender, it’s useful to give general information like age, height, build, gender, ethnicity and clothing.

Also try to remember any particular features such as:

  • hair colour and facial hair

  • glasses or jewellery

  • accent

  • tattoos or piercings

  • scars or birthmarks

If a car or van was involved, say what the number plate was and what it looked like. For example, try to include things like the make, the model, the colour, how old it was and any signs of damage.

If the offender damaged your property, you should describe the damage or loss. If possible, include how much it cost to repair the damage. You can also take photos of the damage to show the police.

Giving your contact details to the police

When you report the hate incident, you’ll need to include your contact details if you want the police to investigate the incident.

If you’re worried about the police contacting you at home, you can ask them to contact you through someone you trust, like a friend or family member. Ask this person if it’s ok to give their contact details to the police.

How to report a hate crime or incident

You can report it online, by phone or in person.

Report a hate crime or incident online

You can report it on the True Vision website. The True Vision website is run by the police. Your report will be sent straight  to your local police force.

You can also download an easy read version of the reporting form on the True Vision website. You can give the form to your local police station after you’ve filled it in.

Report a hate crime or incident in person or by phone

You can report it by phone or at your local police station.

When you report it, ask for the incident reference number. You’ll need this if you want to contact the police about the crime again.

To find your nearest police station, use the local police force finder on the police’s website.

To report it to the police by phone, call 101.

If you can’t hear or speak on the phone, you can type what you want to say using Relay UK. To use Relay UK, dial 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 their website.

If you don’t want to go to the police

If you don’t want to contact the police, you can ask someone else to report it for you, like a friend or family member.

You can also ask an independent organisation to report it to the police for you. These are known as ‘third party reporting centres’. Your report will be anonymous and confidential. Find out more about third party reporting.

If the police don’t think a hate incident happened

The police must record something as a hate incident if you believe it was caused by prejudice or hostility against you:

  • because of your race or religion

  • because of your sexuality

  • because you’re disabled

  • because you’re transgender

It doesn’t matter if the police don’t agree it’s a hate incident. You don’t have to show evidence of prejudice or hostility to report something as a hate incident.

If the police say you’ve experienced antisocial behaviour, tell them you want it recorded as a hate incident. If the offender is prosecuted, the penalty for hate crime is more serious than it is for antisocial behaviour.

After you report a hate crime or hate incident

The police will:

  • give you an incident reference number - you can use this when you want to contact them about your case

  • ask you for a statement and investigate the hate incident if they think a crime has happened

  • ask if you want to be contacted by Victim Support

Victim Support is an independent charity that gives emotional and practical support to people who have experienced crime. For example, if someone damaged your property, Victim Support can help you repair it.

If the police think a crime has happened

The police will investigate your report if they think a crime has happened - for example, if you’ve been assaulted or your property has been damaged.

After you report a hate crime, the police should contact you within 7 days to find out more information. They’ll usually ask you to come to an interview. At the interview you’ll give your statement about what happened. 

If the police don’t contact you within 7 days, you should call your local police station.

Giving your statement to the police

You can ask to be interviewed at the police station, your home or somewhere else. For example, the police might agree to interview you at your nearest Citizens Advice.

It’s a good idea to bring someone with you. You could ask a friend, a solicitor or an adviser from Citizens Advice to come with you.

If you don’t speak or understand English, you can bring a translator or interpreter with you. For example, you can:

  • bring a friend or family member 

  • ask a local advice organisation, like Citizens Advice

  • ask the police to provide an interpreter 

If the police don’t agree to provide an interpreter, ask to see their policy on translators and interpreters. If you think they should have provided a translator or interpreter, you can make a complaint. 

After you give your statement

The police will investigate the incident. It will help the police’s investigation if you can give them evidence - for example, a video of the crime happening. 

When the police have finished investigating, they’ll contact you and let you know the outcome - including if they’re charging someone with a crime. 

If the police decide to charge someone, they’ll send the case to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). The CPS is an organisation that can take people to court - this is called ‘prosecution’. If the CPS decide not to prosecute the offender, they must let you know. 

The police should:

  • give you advice about applying for compensation - even if the police haven’t caught the offender 

  • give you updates about what’s happening with your case

  • ask for your feedback about how they handled your case

If the police don’t do these things, or you’re not happy with how they’re handling your case, you can make a complaint.

If you're not happy with how the police deal with your case

You can complain in person at the police station or by contacting your local police force. You can find your local police force on the police’s website.

If you’re not happy with the response to your complaint, you can talk to an adviser.

If you think the police treated you unfairly because of something like your race, sexuality or disability, this might be discrimination. You can check what to do if you think the police discriminated against you.

Get more help

If you’ve experienced any hate incident or hate crime, you can get support from Victim Support on their website.

There are some national organisations that can help you if you’ve experienced a specific type of hate crime - for example, a transphobic hate crime.

If you’re LGBTQ+

If you’ve experienced a homophobic or transphobic hate incident or hate crime, you can get support from galop on their website.

If you’re Muslim

If you’ve experienced an Islamophobic hate incident or hate crime, you can get support from Tell MAMA on their website.

If you’re Gypsy, Roma or Traveller 

If you’ve experienced a racist hate incident or hate crime, you can get support from Friends, Families and Travellers on their website.

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