Hate crimes

Hate crimes target people for who they are (their identity) or what they appear to be. Hate crime sends a very personal message to its victim and reinforces long-established patterns of discrimination and prejudice against certain communities and groups of people.

Any crime can be prosecuted as a hate crime if the offender has demonstrated, or been motivated by hostility or prejudice, as outlined by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) below.

Hate crime is similar to bullying, and someone can be a victim of more than one type of hate crime.

Definition of a hate crime

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 disability, race, religion, sexual orientation, transgender identity, or any other perceived difference.

Adapted from the Crown Prosecution Service

There is no legal definition of hostility, so the CPS uses the everyday understanding of the word, which includes ill-will, spite, contempt, prejudice, unfriendliness, antagonism, resentment and dislike.

A hate crime can include verbal abuse, intimidation, threats, harassment, assault, bullying and damage to property.

Quotation marks

Hate incidents

Hate incidents are “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”(Metropolitan Police).  It’s important to remember not all hate incidents will amount to criminal offences, but they should still be recorded, and the police recommend that they are reported.


According to the latest Home Office statistics, in the year ending March 2022, police in England and Wales recorded a 26% increase in hate crimes. The statistics also show that over two thirds of reported hate crimes were racially motivated, which is a 19% increase on the previous year.

However, due to significant improvements in police recorded crime in recent years, it’s uncertain whether the increase in police recorded hate crime is a genuine rise, or due to continued recording improvements and more victims having the confidence to report these crimes to the police.

Spotting the signs

The central issue for a lot of hate crimes is the perception that the victim is different. Victim Support says, whilst there are five categories of ‘identity’, as mentioned in the definition above, hate crimes may be targeted at people with other differences (for example, alternative sub-cultures such as Goth).

Signs a person may be the target of hate crimes can include:

  • unexplained absence from school;
  • a change in dress or behaviour;
  • depression or anxiety;
  • aggression;
  • self-harm;
  • substance misuse.

What you can do

Settings have the opportunity to influence and develop our national culture and values, creating exposure to a range of views, encouraging openness and challenge, and dealing effectively with issues when they arise. Hate crimes in education settings often take the form of harassment and bullying including violence.

Ensure any incident of bullying is tackled swiftly – follow your setting’s policy and procedures.

Be aware of vulnerabilities to participation and victimisation – know your pupils and provide support and sign posting.

Create an environment based on equality and informed choice – provide information to allow pupils to make informed choices. It is well established that success in learning within a supportive community can tackle prejudice and inequality.

Provide resources to assist reporting – hate crime is a serious offence. No pupil or staff member should suffer victimisation. The setting community should have access to internal and external reporting, such as online reporting.

Check young people have safe relationships – in their family, with their peers and with your staff. Create the environment where it’s okay to talk even about the most difficult things.

Spot the signs and know what to do – you know the children and young people you work with. Be aware of the signs and how to recognise them. Follow your safeguarding procedures and have confidence in your ability to consider hate crime as a possibility.

Take action – any concerns should be raised with the designated safeguarding lead. If a child is in immediate danger call 999. Keep taking action until you know they are safe.


  • Hate Crime Presentations

    These presentations, created by Birmingham Police and Schools Panels, can be used by educators to explore the issues surrounding hate crime regarding disability, racism, anti-faith agendas, homophobia and transphobia.

  • Young People’s Resource Hub

    This information hub, from Stop Hate UK, is for young people, their carers and teachers to learn about issues surrounding online hate crime, its impact and how to challenge and report it.

  • Educate Against Hate – Classroom Resources

    Although this website mainly provides practical advice, support and resources to protect children from radicalisation and teach them about fundamental British values; many of the resources also explore issues such as online hate, interfaith issues, prejudice, stereotypes, and hate crime.

For resources to develop staff knowledge of safeguarding, subscribe today.

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Join safeguarding network for more information on how to identify and intervene in schools.

  • Training resources for DSLs to use in team meetings
  • Reference documents for additional information
  • Handout for staff summarising hate crimes and radicalisation
  • Quiz to test staff understanding
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