Hate crimes

Whilst someone cannot be arrested for the specific offence of "hate crime" a number of different acts can be considered as hate crimes. They all do however share common characteristics.

Hate crime is motivated by hostility to certain individuals or groups with due to their disability, race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or other perceived difference.

As the Metropolitan Police point out, such crimes do not always include physical violence, and can include harassment because of who you are or, equally, who they think you are.  Hate crime is therefore akin in many ways to bullying.

Definition of a hate crime

The term ‘hate crime’ can be used to describe a range of criminal behaviour where the perpetrator is motivated by hostility or demonstrates hostility towards the victim’s disability, race, religion, sexual orientation or transgender identity.

These aspects of a person’s identity are known as ‘protected characteristics’. A hate crime can include verbal abuse, intimidation, threats, harassment, assault and bullying, as well as damage to property.

Crown Prosecution Service

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.”  It is important to know this as not all hate incidents will amount to criminal offences, but they should still be recorded and the police recommend that they are reported.


Hate crime is noted to be on the rise, with statistics showing a year on year rise of at least 10%.  Specific events such as the EU Referendum have also lead to an increase in hate crime – Home Office statistics suggesting that this led to just under a 50% increase in the number of racially and religiously motivated hate crimes that were reported.  A similar spike was seen after the 2017 Westminster Bridge and Manchester Arena terrorist attacks.

It should be noted that there is no single, reliable source for hate crime statistics in England and Wales, and therefore the true number of incidents which can be classed as hate crimes is likely to be a lot higher.  The statistics that are available tell us that the most common type of hate crime is related to the victims race.

Spotting the signs

The commonality for a lot of hate crimes is the perception that the victim is different.  As Victim Support identify, whilst there are five categories of ‘identity’ (disability, race or ethnicity, religion or belief, sexual orientation and gender identity) crimes may be targeted at people with other differences (Victim Support talk about alternative sub-cultures such as Goth).

Signs of victimisation can include:

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

What you can do

Schools have a real 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 schools often take the form of harassment and bullying including violence.

Ensure any incident of bullying is tackled swiftly – follow school 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 school 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 at school.  The school community should have access to internal and external reporting such as reporting online.

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

Spot the signs & know what to do – use your relationships with young people. Follow your safeguarding procedures and be confident in 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 and keep taking action until you know they’re safe


  • Educate Against Hate – Classroom Resources

    Although this website mainly provides practical advice, support and resources to protect children from extremism and 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 school staff summarising hate crimes and radicalisation
  • Quiz to test staff understanding
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