Skip to content Skip to footer

Problems reporting a hate incident or hate crime

This advice applies to Wales

When you report an incident or a crime, the police may not treat it specifically as a hate incident or a hate crime. If you’re not getting the response you were hoping for, it can make you feel as if the police are not taking your concerns seriously.

Read this page to find out what you can do if you’re having problems when reporting a hate incident or hate crime.

What can you do if the police won’t accept something as a hate incident?

If you tell the police you think something is hate incident, they should record it as such. It doesn’t matter if the police officer dealing with the matter perceives it differently.

You don’t have to show evidence of prejudice or hostility to report a hate incident.

However, when the police investigate the incident they will have to find evidence of prejudice or hostility to charge the offender with a hate crime. The Crown Prosecution Service, who are responsible for prosecuting offenders, will also have to show this evidence in front of the judge when the case goes to court.

So, not every case which is reported will go to court. And even when a case goes to court, the offender may not be found guilty.

If you’re unhappy about the way the police have dealt with your case, you may want to make a complaint. You can complain in person at the police station or contact your local police force. You can also contact your local Professional Standards Department. Many local police forces also have online complaints forms.

Your local Citizens Advice Bureau will be able to help if you are unhappy with the response you receive from the police.

The police are treating the incident as anti-social behaviour

Some acts of anti-social behaviour are also hate incidents. However, hate incidents are not the same as anti-social behaviour.

The Crime and Disorder Act 1998 defines anti-social behaviour as acting in a way that causes or is likely to cause, harassment, alarm or distress to someone else. This includes aggressive, intimidating or destructive activity that damages or destroys another person's quality of life.

Hate incidents happen because of hostility or prejudice based on disability, race, religion, sexual orientation or transgender identity. So, where acts of anti-social behaviour are motivated by hostility or prejudice, they become hate incidents. The police should therefore treat them as hate incidents rather than anti-social behaviour.

Sometimes hate incidents can be dealt with effectively using anti-social behaviour measures. However, where the behaviour is criminal, the police should always consider whether it’s a hate crime, or crime of any sort, and deal with it accordingly.

What can you do if you’re unhappy with the police’s response?

When you report a hate incident, the police will have to decide whether it’s a criminal offence. The police can only charge the perpetrator if a criminal offence has been committed. They also have to find evidence of hostility or prejudice to treat the offence as a hate crime.

After investigating, the police may decide not to charge the suspect if they consider there’s not enough evidence. If the police charge a suspect, it’s the Crown Prosecution Service who decide whether to prosecute or not.

If you’re unhappy about the way the police has handled your case you can make a complaint. You can complain in person at the police station or contact your local police force. You can also contact your local police Professional Standards Department. Many local police forces also have online complaints forms.

Your local Citizens Advice Bureau will be able to help if you are unhappy with the response you receive from the police.

Discrimination claim

If you feel the police has treated you unfairly - for example, by not dealing with your case appropriately - you may also have a discrimination claim under the Equality Act 2010. It’s unlawful for the police to discriminate against you in their work because of certain characteristics - for example, because of your race, religion, sexual orientation, transgender identity and disability.

Next steps

  • Go to the IPCC website to find contact details of your local police Professional Standards Department, at www.ipcc.gov.uk
Did this advice help?