The difference between Hate Crimes and Hate Incidents

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It’s National Hate Crime Awareness Week this week, and we have been continuing our work raising awareness and educating people about hate crime.

In light of new Home Office statistics showing that hate crime is still rising dramatically, it is now more important than ever to speak out about this issue and say no to hate.

You may have heard people talking about hate incidents as well as hate crimes, but not know the difference between the two. Below, we explain the difference and what that means in terms of reporting an incident/crime.

A hate incident is an act of violence or hostility where the victim or anyone else thinks it was motivated by hostility or prejudice based on one of the following characteristics:

  • race
  • religion
  • transgender identity
  • sexual orientation
  • disability

This means that if you believe or someone else believes that something that happened was a hate incident, it can be reported and recorded as such to the police.

Hate incidents may be motivated by who you are or who someone thinks you are. For example, you may be targeted because someone thinks you are Muslim, even if you’re not.

Hate incidents can take many forms. Citizens Advice have created a list with some examples:

  • verbal abuse like name-calling and offensive jokes
  • harassment
  • bullying or intimidation by children, adults, neighbours or strangers
  • physical attacks such as hitting, punching, pushing, spitting
  • threats of violence
  • hoax calls, abusive phone or text messages, hate mail
  • online abuse for example on Facebook or Twitter
  • displaying or circulating discriminatory literature or posters
  • harm or damage to things such as your home, pet, vehicle
  • graffiti
  • arson
  • throwing rubbish into a garden
  • malicious complaints for example over parking, smells or noise.

However, some of these incidents, such as arson or hate mail, are criminal offenses.

When a hate incident becomes a criminal offence it is recognised as a hate crime. So, hate crimes are hate incidents which break the law.

Incidents which are based on other personal characteristics, such as age or gender, are not considered to be hate crimes under the law. Interestingly, there is currently a legal review underway that could see the introduction of misogyny as a new category of hate, but as it stands it is not included.

AT JAN Trust, we have spoken to many women about their experiences with hate, and unfortunately one sentiment we hear a lot is that they didn’t think it was a big enough deal to report, and they would only think about reporting if the incident was physical. However, all incidents should be reported and no one should feel embarrassed that what happened to them wasn’t ‘serious’ enough.

You may be unsure whether the incident is a criminal offence, or you may think it’s not serious enough to be reported. However, you can report both hate incidents and hate crimes to the police – reporting the incident can give police more accurate statistics and help to put a stop to hate incidents/crimes in the future. Even in the case of a hate incident where the law hasn’t necessarily been broken, the authorities can still direct you down the correct avenues for support.

At JAN Trust, we believe in dignity and respect for all, free from hate, and encourage social cohesion and diversity. That is why we raise awareness to prevent hate crime, particularly against BAMER, asylum-seeking and Muslim women. It is important to be aware of your rights and educate people about what they can do if they are a victim of hate.

Visit our website to find out more about the work we do to tackle hate crime.

About JAN Trust

JAN Trust ( is a multi award winning not for profit organisation formed in the late 1980′s. We are based in London and cater for women and youth from disadvantaged and marginalised communities. Our work and services are delivered locally, nationally and internationally. Our aim is to create positive and active citizens of society by educating, empowering and encouraging women and youth. We are dedicated to the cause of combating poverty, discrimination, abuse and social exclusion among Black, Asian, minority ethnic, refugee and asylum seeking (BAMER) women. JAN Trust is making a real difference in improving the lives of communities; promoting human and women's rights as well as community cohesion. We provide a range of services and our work has been recognised by a variety of dignitaries. Check out our website for statements from some of our supporters:
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