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Hate Crime

What is hate crime?

The term 'hate crime' can be used to describe a range of criminal behaviour where the perpetrator is motivated by hostility or demonstrates hostility towards the victim's disability, race, religion, sexual orientation or transgender identity. These aspects of a person's identity are known as 'protected characteristics'.

A hate crime can include verbal abuse, intimidation, threats, harassment, assault and bullying, as well as damage to property. The perpetrator can also be a friend, carer or acquaintance who exploits their relationship with the victim for financial gain or some other criminal purpose.

How the CPS defines 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 a person who is transgender or perceived to be transgender."

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.

How the CPS deals with hate crime

The police investigate whether a hate crime has been committed. They refer cases to the CPS to decide whether there should be a charge. We are responsible for preparing and presenting hate crime cases at court and applying for an increased sentence. We are also responsible for providing information, assistance and support to victims and prosecution witnesses.

Our Public Policy Statements explain the way we deal with and prosecute hate crimes and what victims and witnesses can expect from us.

The public policy statements can be found in the Publications section of the CPS website.


BSL translation of the CPS public statement on prosecuting disability hate crime and other crimes against disabled people:

Audio version

Audio version of the CPS public statement on prosecuting disability hate crime and other crimes against disabled people, approx 54mb

Easy Read

Easy Read leaflet: Taking people to court who carry out hate crime and other crimes against disabled people.

Hate Crime Prosecution Guidance

CPS prosecutors also use legal guidance to help them prosecute cases of hate crime. The legal guidance on hate crime can be found in the legal guidance section of this website.

How the CPS supports victims and witnesses of hate crime

Most hate crime cases end with the defendant pleading guilty. This means that most victims and witnesses don't have to go to court.

If you do have to go to court and give evidence, we will ask you what help you need.

Everyone is different and the support needed by one victim or witness to go through the criminal justice process will be different to the support needed by another victim or witness.

There are a range of adjustments which can be made by those within the criminal justice system and they can be tailored to suit the individual needs of the victim or witness. For more information please see the section on Victims and Witnesses.

Special measures are a range of support options to assist victims and witnesses to give evidence in court. Victims of hate crime are eligible for special measures.

Once it has been decided what special measures would help a victim or witness, the CPS prosecutor makes an application to the court. The court makes the final decision on whether special measures will be granted or not.

Special measures include, but are not limited to:

  • screens/curtains in the court room so the witness does not have to see the defendant;
  • a live video link allowing the witness to give evidence away from the courtroom. This could be from a separate room within the court, or from a dedicated live link site outside the court building;
  • evidence given in private, through a professional intermediary or using communication aids.

Read the CPS legal guidance on special measures.

The CPS recognises that disabled people, as a group, are at a higher risk of crime than the general population. We have produced a support guide to help anyone understand the types of support which exist to assist disabled victims of crime and where to access them.

Download the Guide to support for disabled victims and witnesses of crime

Easy read

Read our leaflet about Support for disabled victims and witnesses of a crime


Lawrlwythwch yr arweiniad i Cefnogaeth i Ddioddefwyr ag Anableddau a Thystion

Leaflet: Hate Crime - what it is and what to do about it

We have also produced a leaflet called Hate Crime - what it is and what to do about it

Leaflet: Hate Crime - what it is and how to support victims and witnesses

There is also a leaflet for for people working in voluntary organisations, as well as frontline staff in health, housing or social welfare โ€“ in fact anyone who might be the first to hear about a hate crime incident:

Audio version

Hate Crime - what it is and how to support victims and witnesses, approx 27mb