Racist or religious hate crimes and incidents “A racist or religious hate crime/ incident is any incident, which may or may not amount to a criminal offence, that the victim or anyone else thinks was carried out because of hostility or prejudice based on race or religion.”

 A racial group means a group of people defined by reference to their race, colour, nationality or ethnic or national origin. This also includes:

  • Gypsies and Travelers
  • Refugees and asylum seekers
  • Jews and Sikhs

 A religious group means people who share the same religious belief, such as Muslims, Hindus and Christians. It also includes people with no religious belief.

Anyone can be the victim of a racist or religious hate incident. For example, someone may wrongly target a person because they believe they belong to a particular racial group, or someone may be targeted because of their partner’s religion.

An example of a racist hate crime could be racist chanting at a football match or racist graffiti.

An example of a religious or faith hate crime could be when a place of worship is attacked or when leaflets attacking another religion or faith are circulated publicly.

When a criminal offence is classed as a racist or religious hate crime, the judge imposes a tougher sentence on the perpetrator.

Further information about racist or religious hate incidents

The Law Commission has consulted with professionals and community members seeking to provide clarity and parity, leading to a reform in the law allowing each protected characteristic to benefit from legal protection.

The Commission has also consulted on whether misogyny (sex or gender) should be added to protected characteristics. The final recommendations to the Government are due to be published in 2021.