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Racist and religious hate crime

This advice applies to Wales

What are racist or religious hate incidents?

Something is a racist or religious hate incident if the victim or anyone else thinks it was carried out because of hostility or prejudice based on race or religion.

This means that if you believe something is a hate incident, it should be recorded as such by the person you are reporting it to.

Who can be the victim of a racist and religious hate incident?

Anyone can be the victim of a racist or religious hate incident. For example, someone may wrongly believe you’re part of a certain racial group. Or someone may target you because of your partner’s religion.

What does racial or religious group mean?

A racial group means a group of people who are defined by reference to their race, colour, nationality or ethnic or national origin. This includes:

  • Gypsies and Travellers
  • refugees and asylum seekers
  • Jews and Sikhs.

A religious group means a group of people who share the same religious belief such as Muslims, Hindus and Christians. It also includes people with no religious belief at all.

What type of incidents can be a racist or religious hate incident?

Racist or religious hate incidents can take many forms including:

  • verbal and physical abuse
  • bullying
  • threatening behaviour
  • online abuse
  • damage to property.

It can be a one-off incident or part of an ongoing campaign of harassment or intimidation.

Hate incidents are not only carried out by strangers. It could be carried out by a carer, a neighbour, a teacher or someone you consider a friend.

When is a racist or religious hate incident also a hate crime?

When racist or religious hate incidents become criminal offences, they are known as hate crimes. Any criminal offence can be a racist or religious hate crime, if the offender targeted you because of their prejudice or hostility based on race or religion.

There are two main types of racist and religious hate crime:

  • racially or religiously aggravated offences under the Crime and Disorder Act 1998
  • any other offences for which the sentence can be increased under the Criminal Justice Act 2003 if they are classed as a hate crime

In both cases, when a criminal offence is classed as a racist or religious hate crime, the judge can impose a tougher sentence on the offender.

Remember, the incident you’ve suffered may still be a crime even if it’s difficult to show it was carried out because of hostility based on race or religion.

What can you do about a racist or religious hate incident?

If you’ve experienced a hate incident or crime you can report it to the police. You can also report a hate incident or crime even if it wasn’t directed at you. For example, you could be a friend, neighbour, family member, support worker or simply a passer-by.

If you’re being repeatedly harassed by the same person or group of people it’s best to report all the incidents to help the police get the full picture.

When reporting the incident or crime you should say you think it was motivated by hostility or prejudice based on race or religion.

Your local Citizens Advice Bureau can help you with reporting a hate incident or crime.

Incidents at work

If you’ve experienced acts of hostility or harassment because of race or religion at work, you may have a discrimination claim under the Equality Act 2010.

Incidents at or near home

Many hate incidents happen near the victim’s home. For example, you may be repeatedly harassed or intimidated by neighbours or local youths. People may be throwing things like rubbish in your garden or damaging your property.

You can report these incidents to the police. There are also other things you can do to stop these acts.

You can get your local authority or landlord to take action under their anti-social behaviour powers. You can also take civil court action to get compensation and an order to stop the perpetrator continuing with the behaviour under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997.

Incidents at or near school

When bullying is motivated by hostility or prejudice based on race or religion, it can be a hate incident. Bullying in itself is not a criminal offence. But if it’s serious enough, it could also be a hate crime. Bullying includes cyber bullying.

If you’ve experienced bullying, the school should deal with it under their behaviour policy. They should also co-operate with the police and social services if they become involved.

If the school fails to deal with the bullying, you may have a discrimination claim under the Equality Act 2010. You may also be able to challenge the schools failure to act under their public sector equality duty.

Next steps

Other useful information

  • For more information on anti-Muslim hate crime see the Tell MAMA website, at tellmamauk.org
  • For more information on antisemitic hate crime see the CST website at, www.thecst.org.uk
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