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Definition of hate crime

What is a hate crime?

The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) defines hate crime as "a crime where the perpetrator's prejudice against any identifiable group of people is a factor in determining who is victimised". Hate crime can include:

  • Physical abuse
  • Verbal abuse
  • Harassment

The law

Section 146 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 came into effect in April 2005, empowering courts to impose tougher sentences for offences motivated or aggravated by the victim's sexual orientation or gender identity in England and Wales.

It is an offence to use threatening or abusive words or behaviour in public in a way that is intended to cause a person harassment, alarm or distress. It's also an offence to put up a sign or poster that is threatening or abusive in the same way.

As with all criminal incidents, the police have to decide whether or not they can bring a prosecution. This will be based on factors like public interest, resources, and the evidence available. Not all reports will result in a prosecution.