Racist or religious hate crimes and incidents

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 Travellers
  • Refugees and asylum seekers
  • Jews and Sikhs

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.

Organisations who support victims of 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 also consulted on whether misogyny (sex or gender) should be added to the list of hate crimes but in 2021 it decided against it.  However, soon afterwards the House of Lords voted that it should be.  The relevant law was due to return to the House of Commons for further consideration in 2022.