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The experiences of victims of hate crime

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Published: October 2018

The research looks at the experiences of victims of hate crime; their decision-making, motivations for and barriers to reporting these crimes; and their experiences with the police, criminal justice system and support services.

About the report

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) 2018 inspection report into how hate crimes are handled by the police found that, while there was evidence of good practice, responses to victims were inconsistent. The inspection made recommendations to improve processes and support for police officers and staff that would develop greater understanding and confidence when dealing with victims of hate crime.

NatCen Social Research carried out the victim engagement strand of this research, where we spoke to victims of hate crime from across England and Wales. The research looks at the experiences of victims of hate crime; their decision-making, motivations for and barriers to reporting these crimes; and experiences with the police, criminal justice system and support services.

Download the full report from the Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) website or on the link below.

Key findings

  • Victims’ understanding of the types of incident that could be categorised as hate crime varied. It was not clear to some whether incidents needed to have a physical element to constitute hate crime, and confusion was particularly evident when considering incidents that took place online.
  • Motivations for reporting hate crimes included individual reasons such as finding relief or wanting the perpetrator to be held to account, as well as broader considerations, such as the prevention of repeat offending and contributing to accurate recording of hate crime.
  • Reasons for not reporting included feeling that the incident was not sufficiently serious, that there was too little supporting evidence for further steps to be taken, or reluctance due to previous poor experiences with the police. Practical barriers included shame and blame, inaccessible reporting facilities and the amount of time that reporting would require.
  • Responses to participants who had reported hate crimes or incidents were varied. Examples of good practice included being regularly updated and having expectations clearly set out. However, examples of negative experiences were also described by participants and included an inappropriate police response (e.g. lack of empathy or specific knowledge about protected characteristics), lack of updates and difficulty contacting the police.
  • Police and community participants had different experiences of reporting, with police participants reporting more uniform and positive experiences than their community peers.
  • Participants discussed emotional and practical support received from informal sources such as friends, family and colleagues, as well as from formal sources such as third party support organisations and community groups. Formal support was accessed in three ways: through independent contact, signposting and referrals.
  • Barriers to accessing support included having limited awareness of support provision and, perceptions that relevant support organisations were either not available or were inaccessible to participants.

Methods

The study involved one-to-one qualitative interviews with individuals who had been victims of hate crime to explore their experiences in depth. A total of 26 interviews with community and police participants were conducted across England and Wales.

Download the report