Hate crime in England and Wales is defined as, ‘any criminal offence which is perceived, by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by hostility or prejudice towards someone based on a personal characteristic’.
Yes. It is actually that broad and yes, it is actually that vague.
The definition was agreed in 2007 by the Police Service, Crown Prosecution Service, Prison Service and other agencies.
There are five centrally monitored ‘strands’ of hate crime:
- race or ethnicity;
- religion or beliefs;
- sexual orientation;
- transgender identity
Hatred related to gender and age, though recorded by the police, is not included in the UK Home Office definition of hate crime as centrally monitored strands and are excluded from the hate crime statistics.
This may change in the near future.
In fact it was announced not too long ago that as part of a review into hate crime legislation, hatred towards men and women may also become a crime, along with…. “gothic subculture”.
What is absolutely staggering to note, however, is the fact that terrorist activity (such as the Manchester Arena attack), is not covered by the statistical collection on hate crime in the UK for the ludicrous reason that such attacks “may be targeted against general British or Western values rather than one of the five specific strands.”
However, other terrorist attacks do fit within the centrally monitored hate crime strands.
For example, the Finsbury Park Mosque attack did appear to be against a specific religion so it is included as a hate crime in this bulletin.
So, what we are supposed to accept is that if you go to a concert full of British kids armed to the teeth and with murderous intent; you are not engaged in an action that can be recorded as a statistically collectable ‘hate crime.’ Got that?
But if you go to a mosque or for that matter a church, similarly armed to the teeth, then you are engaging in a crime worthy of being included as a hate crime.
This is laid out, in all its glorious incoherence, in the Hate Crime, England and Wales, 2017/18 Statistical Bulletin 20/18 published by the UK Home Office.
Alarm bells should already be ringing at this stage.
What should also be raising alarm bells is the fact that even those who collate the data on levels of ‘Hate Crime’ in the UK bluntly admit that there is no single reliable source of hate crime statistics in England and Wales.
The two main sources used to record crimes in England and Wales are the Crime Survey of England and Wales (CSEW) and the Police Recorded Crimes series.
It is accepted that both are problematic in that the CSEW does not cover all crimes which may have a hate crime component such as homicides and public order offences.
Now the argument could be made that this means the actual level of hate crime is under-reported.
What is more likely however is that if these were covered, then reported incidences of hate crime will become so inflated as to be practically meaningless-or should that be more meaningless?
Perhaps one of the most disturbing developments in recent years is the insistence that European police forces initiate measures to take account of what is termed “bias motivation” at the time a crime log is created.
What this means in practice is that police forces throughout the EU will now be expected to flag an offence as “a potential hate crime.”
It does not matter if it is not a hate crime now. It may be a hate crime.
Apparently, this will help law enforcement to meet its duty to fully ‘unmask’ evidence of bias motivation.
The way this is officially being defended or argued for is to say that the police need their systems to have the capability to record the full range of bias motivations, including emerging or existing types of hate crime that may not currently be covered by national laws pertaining to hate crime.
This is almost the definition of what a ‘chilling effect’ on free speech would look like.
It should be clear enough at this point that not only are there significant problems with how ‘hate crimes’ are currently being recorded, but there are even more alarming developments on the way.