Hate crime are those crimes that are motivated by prejudice, often involving the destruction of property and/or violence. Often the individual committing a form of hate crime intends to effect more people than just the individual who is the direct victim of the actual crime, and through the potential psychological effects hopes to have an impact on larger numbers of people who hold one of the targeted identities. There are times when multiple communities, groups, or people with shared identities are targeted, such as for both their racial identity and religion simultaneously. Identifying hate crimes can be difficult and it is important to report and document the crimes and activities of anyone believed to be acting based on their biases or prejudices.
How to Identify a Hate Crime
Hate crime can sometimes be difficult to identify, as it is not the action of the crime rather the motivation that defines a hate crime. There are many illegal activities, violent acts, or property destruction, as well as actions that may only be classified as a crime due to the motivation of the action. The following categories are the most common forms of hate crime; threatening behaviour, assault and physical harm, robbery, damage to property, harassment, and inciting other to commit crimes motivated by hate.
Hate crimes can be overtly prejudice, such as in the case of derogatory language accompanying the crime, or they can be less obviously hate crimes making them difficult to identify. The element of bias that leads to the actual crime is often more difficult to identify than the crime itself, and it requires evidence or proof of the motive that predicated the crime. Investigating the motive to determine whether or not a hate crime has been committed requires significant police resources, and can often be difficult to pursue unless it is an obvious case of bias or prejudice.
Prejudice& Bias Motivate Hate Crimes
In order to considered a hate crime, it is necessary that the motivation for the crime be some form of hostility or prejudice. There are many identities which a person can hold that might make them the potential target of hate crime, which can include the psychological effects of the crime even though the person may not be a direct victim of the crime. The most common prejudices held by individuals include; race or ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion or belief system (including non-belief), and disability. The most commonly reported motive for hate crimes are related to the victims’ ancestral, cultural, social, or national affiliation. These categories are merely common guidelines, however are not the only identities that might be held by victims of a hate crime.
The number of hate crimes often climbs in response to world events, can be associated with holidays or traditional celebrations, and are generally increasing across the United Kingdom. Economic factors and major social movements can significantly contribute to the rates of hate crimes, as individuals may attempt to express their anger or frustration and may blame a group of individuals for various negative aspects of their life situation. The crime itself is typically not the most significant motivation, rather the message that is associated with the hate crime is of more importance to the perpetrator. Two common reasons for a person to want to deliver a message through a hate crime are defensive or retaliatory. In a defensive minded hate crime, the perpetrator hopes to deliver a message to perceived outsiders in an effort to protect their rights or space. Retaliatory hate crimes are committed in response to an event or action, either real or perceived.
Where to Find Help if You’re Effected by Hate Crime
If you have been, or believe you may have been, the victim of a hate crime it is important to seek assistance and report the crime. Individuals who may suffer secondary effects of hate crimes that have been committed should also find support and assistance, either through formal services or within their groups or communities. Often the best place to seek support and find strength is through the community of individuals who have been targeted by the crime itself.
The government of the United Kingdom is invested in combating hate crime, and has developed many resources to identify and persecute hate crimes as well as to support victims of hate crimes. There are a variety of publications provided by the government to support this endeavour, and are a significant source of information. There are numerous entities which exist to assist and support potential victims of hate crimes, and offer reporting and recording services as a means of documenting any incidents. As always, any actual crime should be reported to the police as soon as possible but it may not be immediately identified as a hate crime as this can be a more difficult process. The secondary entities exist to help communities document those crimes which they believe to have been motivated by prejudice.