Hate crime

Hate crime is a crime against a person usually because of their race, religious belief, sexual orientation, political opinion, gender identity or disability. Hate crime can take many forms from bullying and name calling, damage to property, violent attacks and even hate mail or hate email

Types of hate crime

There are many different types of hate crime. In Northern Ireland the police and the courts recognise these as hate crimes:

  • racist hate crime - you can be a victim of racist hate crime because of the colour of your skin, but also because of what country you come from or what language you speak
  • homophobic hate crime - this mean a crime against someone because they are gay, lesbian or bisexual
  • religious hate crime - is attacking someone because of their religion or even for a lack of religious belief
  • sectarian hate crime - is where you can be attacked because of your community background, for example: Catholic or Protestant or because of your political opinions, for example nationalist or loyalist
  • transgender hate crime - is a crime against someone whose gender identity is different from their birth sex
  • disability hate crime - is a crime against someone because of a physical or mental disability they have or appear to have

Every crime is a sign of hate. But crimes committed against a person because of skin colour, religion or sexuality is an attack against the victim's identity, others of the same group and society as whole.

The courts take hate crimes very seriously and can give stronger prison sentences to people who have committed hate crimes.

Reporting a hate crime

If you are a victim or witness to a hate crime of any type or feel threatened, report it to the police:

  • calling 999 in an emergency
  • contacting your local police on 101
  • calling Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111

The PSNI has immediate access to interpreters 24 hours a day for non English speakers.

You can also report a non-emergency crime online.

Support for victims of hate crime

As a victim of a hate crime or incident you may find it helpful to speak to someone about your experience. There are a range of support services available that can help you deal with the impact of the crime.

The Regional Advocacy Service for Victims of Hate Crime can help support you during the police investigation. They can also help you to contact the police if you’re feeling vulnerable or unsure.

The PSNI also has Hate and Signal Crime Officers who have been specifically trained to advise and support victims of hate crime.

If you or your home has been attacked

If you have been the victim of a hate incident or crime at or near your home, or your home has been attacked, you may be eligible for help from the Hate Incident Practical Action Scheme.

The scheme supports victims of hate incidents by helping them with personal and home protection measures. It is available to owner occupiers and tenants in privately rented or Housing Executive properties.

You must report the hate incident or incidents to the police to be eligible for support.

When an incident is confirmed by the police, minimum repairs may be carried out to secure the property. If requested, there will be a follow up visit by a local police officer who can recommend work to be carried out by the Housing Executive to repair the property and improve existing security.

The scheme is available 24 hours each day to provide support and reassurance to victims of hate incidents.

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