How do I know if it's a hate crime?
Importantly, it’s the motivation of the perpetrator that is the key factor in defining hate crime. The law is clear that the identity of the victim is irrelevant as to whether something is a hate crime or not. This means that you do not need to be a member of a minority community to be a victim of hate crime.
What does hate crime cover?
Hate crime is defined as ‘a crime motivated by malice or ill towards a social group’. It can have hugely damaging effects on both victims, their families and our communities.
Hate crimes can be committed against a person or a property (e.g. vandalism of a religious building or offensive graffiti in public places) and can include:
- verbal abuse
- physical attacks
- threats of violence
- hoax calls, abusive phone or text messages, hate mail
- online abuse
- criminal damage to your property or vehicle
- emotional, psychological and financial abuse including threats, blackmail and extortion.
What should I do if I've been a victim of a hate crime?
Our society does not tolerate prejudice of any form – everyone has the right to live safely and without fear. If you have been a victim of hate crime, it’s absolutely crucial that you report it to the police. Once reported, Police Scotland will take all the necessary steps to bring the perpetrator to justice.
And, if your case goes to court, the Judge can impose a tougher sentence on offenders when they are found guilty of a hate crime.
What should I do if I witness hate crime?
Here are some simple steps to take should you witness hate crime.
- Keep yourself safe
Make sure you’re not in any danger. If this is a violent attack, find a safe spot and then call for help.
- Stay calm if you decide to intervene
It’s important to keep a cool head. The perpetrator might perceive your intervention as a threat and could act violently.
- Ask others for help
If it’s a dangerous or violent attack, call the emergency services to report the crime as soon as possible. It’s also a good idea to get help from other members of the public.
- Record the incident
If safe to do so, record the event on your phone/camera. This could turn out to be vital evidence later down the line.
How can I help a victim of hate crime?
All forms of hate crime should be challenged at all times. And too often victims suffer in silence. Here are some steps you could take to help a victim after a hate crime incident.
- Move away
If the perpetrator is still nearby, ask the victim if they would like you to accompany them away from the scene.
- Offer support
Make it clear that you’re on their side and ask if there is anything else you can do to help.
- Report it to the police
Report the incident by calling 999 in an emergency or 101 in a non-emergency. Alternatively you can fill out a police report online.