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Hate Crime

Hate crime is any criminal offence committed against a person or property that is motivated by hostility towards someone based on their disability, race, religion, gender identity or sexual orientation:

  • race, colour, ethnic origin, nationality or national origins
  • religion
  • gender or gender identity
  • sexual orientation
  • disability
  • age

Find out more about how we prosecute hate crime

CPS updates policy on prosecuting racist and religious crime


The Crown Prosecution Service has updated its policy and guidance to prosecutors on racist and religious crime following changes in the law and the way it deals with victims and witnesses.

Director of Public Prosecutions, Sir Ken Macdonald QC said: "We regard racist and religiously aggravated crimes as particularly serious because victims are targeted solely because of their identity or beliefs. These crimes don't just affect individual victims and their families but whole communities.

"Since the policy was first introduced in 2003, we have seen new laws passed, such as the Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006. We have also seen changes in the CPS with the introduction of Witness Care Units and the way we engage with the community. We want to make sure that the policy keeps up to date with these changes.

"We also want to reflect the views of the community we serve, so we have taken into account comments from Black and minority ethnic communities and faith communities. Their contributions have helped us to have a better understanding of the things that are important to them and have been included in the updated policy."

The main changes in the policy include:

  • Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006. This Act came into force on 1 October 2007 and created new offences of stirring up religious hatred.
  • The obligations placed on prosecutors by the Attorney General's Guidelines On The Acceptance Of Pleas and The Prosecutor's Role In The Sentencing Exercise 2005.
  • The sections on Victims and Witnesses have been redrafted to take into account the impact of the Prosecutor's Pledge and the Code of Practice for Victims of Crime.
  • Section 2 of the Policy ('What We Mean By Racist and Religious Crime') has been redrafted to make clearer the distinction between a racist/religious incident and a racist/religious crime.

The policy explains what is meant by racist and religious crime, the offences and how the law works, the CPS' responsibility to victims and witnesses, the rights of defendants and how we monitor racist and religious crime.

Sir Ken said: "We are publishing the statement because we want victims, witnesses and their families, as well as the general public, to be confident that the CPS understands the serious nature of this type of crime and the real and lasting effects it can have, not just on individuals and their families but on communities and society as a whole."

The Solicitor General, Vera Baird QC MP said, "It is vital that we work closely with the communities that we serve. By working closely with these communities, updating and refreshing our policies and procedures, we aim to gain the public's confidence in our commitment to prosecuting these crimes as best we can. However - this is not just about policy but about the CPS' strong performance in prosecuting hate crime and its focus on community engagement and the important work that all contributes to community cohesion."

  1. The first edition of the policy was published in July 2003 and has been available to the public since then.
  2. The second edition Racist and Religious Crime Policy is available on this website.
  3. A six week public consultation exercise was held in autumn 2007, together with two consultation meetings with key groups.
  4. The CPS published its Racist and Religious Incident Monitoring report in February 2008. It is available in the Research, Monitoring and Evaluation Reports section on this website.
  5. Media enquiries to CPS Press Office on 020 7796 8180.
  6. The Crown Prosecution Service is the Government Department responsible for prosecuting criminal cases investigated by the police in England and Wales. It is responsible for:
    • Advising the police and reviewing the evidence on cases for possible prosecution;
    • Deciding the charge where the decision is to prosecute;
    • Preparing cases for court;
    • Presentation of cases at court;

    The CPS consists of 42 Areas in total, each headed by a Chief Crown Prosecutor (CCP). A telephone service, CPS Direct, provides out-of-hours advice and decisions to police officers across England and Wales. The CPS employs around 8,400 people and prosecuted 1,091,250 cases with an overall conviction rate of 83.7% in 2006-2007. Further information can be found on this website.