The law recognises five types of hate crime on the basis of:
- Sexual orientation
- Transgender identity
Any crime can be prosecuted as a hate crime if the offender has either:
- demonstrated hostility based on race, religion, disability, sexual orientation or transgender identity
- been motivated by hostility based on race, religion, disability, sexual orientation or transgender identity
Someone can be a victim of more than one type of hate crime.
These crimes are covered by legislation (Crime and Disorder Act 1998 and section 66 of the Sentencing Act 2020) which allows prosecutors to apply for an uplift in sentence for those convicted of a hate crime.
The police and the CPS have agreed the following definition for identifying and flagging hate crimes:
"Any criminal offence which is perceived by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by hostility or prejudice, based on a person's disability or perceived disability; race or perceived race; or religion or perceived religion; or sexual orientation or perceived sexual orientation or transgender identity or perceived transgender identity."
There is no legal definition of hostility so we use the everyday understanding of the word which includes ill-will, spite, contempt, prejudice, unfriendliness, antagonism, resentment and dislike.
What’s the role of the CPS in prosecuting hate crime?
The police investigate and obtain evidence to show a crime has been committed.
In hate crime cases this includes gathering evidence that the victim has been targeted because of their race, religion, disability, sexual orientation and/or transgender identity or because of what the offender believes to be their race, religion, disability, sexual orientation and/or transgender identity.
The CPS is responsible for deciding which cases go to court. This includes taking a decision on whether there is enough evidence to prosecute a crime as a hate crime.
If an offender pleads not guilty the CPS are responsible for preparing and presenting the case against them at court.
In hate crime cases the CPS is also responsible for asking the courts to increase the sentence that an offender receives – to reflect the fact that the crime they committed was a hate crime.
How are we tackling hate crime and what impact are we having?
At the CPS we recognise how important it is to effectively prosecute hate crimes. Here are some of the things we’re doing to achieve this:
- We train all our prosecutors on hate crime. We designed the training with the support of our community partners to make sure it accurately reflects the cases our lawyers are likely to be dealing with.
- We quality check our cases regularly. CPS lawyers review each other’s work and provide feedback on both open and closed cases – helping us to learn from each other and deliver the best quality service.
- We hold regular feedback groups locally and nationally. These groups give us the opportunity to review cases with members of the community to understand where we’ve done well and discuss how we could improve. These are particularly important for helping us to improve our communication with victims, witnesses and families. Read more about the national Hate Crime External Consultation Group.
- We’ve published public policy statements to explain how we prosecute hate crime. These explain the process that we go through when prosecuting a hate crime and let victims and witnesses know what they can expect from us.
- We work closely with partners across the criminal justice sector and beyond to help the public understand hate crime and what we can do to tackle it.
What impact is this having?
Hate crime data
Hate Crime data is now published regularly as part of our Quarterly Data Summaries.
Find the quarterly summary you're interested in and select 'Hate Crime' in the index.
Read how the CPS goes about prosecuting the different strands of Hate Crime in our Prosecution Guidance section
Crimes Against Older People
Whilst crimes against older people do not fall under hate crime legislation, our approach to dealing with these crimes has much in common with how we tackle hate crime. People can also be a victim of a crime against an older person and hate crime. For these reasons, you’ll find our policy and guidance for prosecuting crimes against older people below.
Public policy statements on hate crime
Our public policy statements explain the way we deal with and prosecute hate crimes and what victims and witnesses can expect from us.
Hate Crime: what it is and how to support victims and witnesses - This guide is designed for people working in voluntary organisations, as well as frontline staff in health, housing or social welfare – in fact anyone who might be the first to hear about an incident. (PDF)