How do the police respond to a report of hate crime?

When a victim of a hate crime is known, they will be spoken to in the first instance by the police who will listen to what has happened. The police will seek to understand the impact that the crime has had on the individual(s). The impact of hate crime on an individual is often compounded due to the way it seeks to harm the personal identity of its victim.

By speaking with the victim, police are able to identify a victim’s needs, determine any vulnerabilities and seek to understand how the victim may wish for the incident to be resolved. Where any additional support is identified, this will be put into place and support from other agencies can be provided where necessary.

How best to resolve a case of hate crime will be discussed with the victim, unless the circumstances (with evidence gathered) are so serious that it must follow the criminal justice route through the court system.

Investigating hate crime

The police will investigate the circumstances of a hate crime and will look to find evidence to support this. Without evidence, it is not possible for an investigation to be taken to court.

Evidence can take many forms

  • Forensic: fingerprints, DNA
  • CCTV
  • Photographs of injuries
  • Graffiti
  • Hate mail
  • Text messages
  • Social media posts/messages
  • Unsolicited e-mails
  • An admission by the perpetrator

When a hate crime is reported, statements will be obtained from victims and witnesses. First accounts from a witness can be a key piece of evidence. A support service assisting a victim with a third-party report may be asked to give a first account statement by the police.

The Crown Prosecution Service is the organisation which takes an investigation to court to prosecute someone for a hate crime.

However, following the criminal justice route through the court isn’t the only way to deal with an offender.

The other options that may be considered are

  • Criminal Behaviour Orders (CBO)
  • Acceptable Behaviour Contracts (ABC)
  • Civil injunctions
  • Harassment warning
  • Caution
  • Charge
  • Community resolution
  • Restorative Justice
  • Bail for further enquiries
  • No further action
  • Referrals to other organisations for support

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