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Hate crime


Answer

If you have encountered an incident that was motivated by who you are or who someone thinks you are, you may have been a victim of a hate crime/incident.

For example, a person is beaten up and whilst being attacked the offender makes offensive comments about the person's believed race or ethnicity / sexual orientation/religion or belief/disability or transgender identity.

Please see Q643 for definitions of a hate crime/hate incident.

The police take reports of these incidents very seriously and if you feel you have been the victim of a hate crime/incident you should report the matter to your local police force. Reports can also be made online via True Vision who report it to the police on your behalf, should you not wish to report it directly. For more information please see the websites in the Related Information.


Answer

Whilst there is no legal requirement to report a crime, there is a moral duty on everyone of us to report to the police any crime or anything we suspect may be a crime.


Answer

It depends upon the type of incident you are reporting. This area of law is very complex, so the following is a basic guide only (as there are exceptions).

Road Traffic Accidents:

  • Reportable road traffic accidents (see questions in related topics for more details) must be reported as soon as is reasonably practicable and in any case, within twenty-four hours.
  • Minor road traffic incidents e.g. failing to wear a seatbelt, have a time limit on prosecution of 6 months.
  • Serious road traffic incidents (e.g. dangerous driving) have no such time limit for prosecution.

Crime:

  • Most crimes do not have a time limit for reporting them.
  • The crimes that do have time limits are 'summary only' which means that they can only be tried at a Magistrates Court and are relatively minor offences; they must be prosecuted within 6 months e.g. common assault, harassment and taken without owners consent (TWOC).
Do bear in mind that the more time there is between the incident happening and reporting it to the police, the harder it will be for the police to gather the evidence.


Answer

It is an offence to use threatening behaviour or words which are intended to stir up religious hatred or hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation. The law covers the spoken word and written material, including plays, recordings, visual images or audio sounds.

The legislation makes specific mention that the law does not affect freedom of speech and that it is still permissible to criticise, discuss or dislike a religious belief system or sexual orientation.


Answer

The Code of Practice for Victims of Crime in England and Wales sets out the services that a victim of crime can expect to receive throughout the criminal justice process in England and Wales. It lists the organisations that must provide those services to the victim and sets a minimum standard for these services.

The full Code can be accessed via the relevant link in the Related Information section. However please find a summary of the Code below:

Right 1 - To be able to understand and to be understood

You have the Right to be given information in a way that is easy to understand and to be provided with help to be understood, including, where necessary, access to interpretation and translation services.

Right 2 - To have the details of the crime recorded without unjustified delay

You have the Right to have details of the crime recorded by the police as soon as possible after the incident. If you are required to provide a witness statement or be interviewed, you have the Right to be provided with additional support to assist you through this process.

Right 3 - To be provided with information when reporting the crime

You have the Right to receive written confirmation when reporting a crime, to be provided with information about the criminal justice process and to be told about programmes or services for victims. This might include services where you can meet with the suspect or offender, which is known as Restorative Justice.

Right 4 - To be referred to services that support victims and have services and support tailored to your needs

You have the Right to be referred to services that support victims, which includes the Right to contact them directly, and to have your needs assessed so services and support can be tailored to meet your needs. If eligible, you have the Right to
be offered a referral to specialist support services and to be told about additional support available at court, for example special measures.

Right 5 - To be provided with information about compensation

Where eligible, you have the Right to be told about how to claim compensation for any loss, damage or injury caused as a result of crime.

Right 6 - To be provided with information about the investigation and prosecution

You have the Right to be provided with updates on your case and to be told when important decisions are taken. You also have the Right, at certain stages of the justice process, to ask for decisions to be looked at again by the relevant service provider.

Right 7 - To make a Victim Personal Statement

You have the Right to make a Victim Personal Statement, which tells the court how the crime has affected you and is considered when sentencing the offender. You will be given information about the process.

Right 8 - To be given information about the trial, trial process and your role as a witness

If your case goes to court, you have the Right to be told the time, date and location of any hearing and the outcome of those hearings in a timely way. If you are required to give evidence, you have the Right to be offered appropriate help before the trial and, where possible, if the court allows, to meet with the prosecutor before giving evidence.

Right 9 - To be given information about the outcome of the case and any appeals

You have the Right to be told the outcome of the case and, if the defendant is convicted, to be given an explanation of the sentence. If the offender appeals against their conviction or sentence, you have the Right to be told about the
appeal and its outcome.

Right 10 - To be paid expenses and have property returned

If you are required to attend court and give evidence, you have the Right to claim certain expenses. If any of your property was taken as evidence, you have the Right to get it back as soon as possible.

Right 11 - To be given information about the offender following a conviction

Where eligible, you have the Right to be automatically referred to the Victim Contact Scheme, which will provide you with information about the offender and their progress in prison, and if/when they become eligible for consideration of parole or release. Where applicable, you also have the Right to make a new Victim Personal Statement, in which you can say how the crime continues to affect you.

Right 12 - To make a complaint about your Rights not being met

If you believe that you have not received your Rights, you have the Right to make a complaint to the relevant service provider. If you remain unhappy, you can contact the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman.

The police's responsibilities to a victim of crime are as follows -

A victim is classed as a person who is -

  • a person who has suffered harm, including physical, mental or emotional harm or economic loss which was directly caused by a criminal offence;
  • a close relative (or a nominated family spokesperson) of a person whose death was directly caused by a criminal offence;
  • 'businesses' are not included in this definition (see Note 2 on Page 3 of the Code for more information on this).

As a victim of crime you are entitled to receive the following from the police -

  • if the crime is finalised at source (not investigated) then the victim must be notified of this within 5 working days (1 working day under Enhanced Rights – see page 10 of the Code);
  • must supply the victim with written information on what to expect from the criminal justice system as soon as possible, and not later than 5 working days after reporting the crime;
  • must inform Victim Support services of the victims' details within 2 working days of the crime report (unless the victim asks them not to do so);
  • If the case goes to court the police must inform victims of the date, time and location of the first court hearing;
  • inform victims within 5 working days of receipt from the court, if an arrest warrant has been issued for a suspect who failed to attend court and the outcome of a hearing if the suspect is re-arrested;
 
You are entitled to be informed by the police of the following information and to have the reasons explained to you within 5 working days of a suspect being:
 arrested;
  •  being issued an out of court disposal
  •  interviewed under caution;
  •  released without charge;
  •  released on police bail, or if police bail conditions are changed or cancelled.
 
Informing the victim can include by letter, telephone, personal visit, fax, text message or email.

Vulnerable victims

Vulnerable victims are provided with an enhanced service. You may be classed as vulnerable if -

  • you are under 18 years of age at the time of the offence or
  • the quality of your evidence is likely to be affected because:

(i) you suffer from mental disorder within the meaning of the Mental Health Act 1983;
(ii) you otherwise have a significant impairment of intelligence and social functioning; or
(iii) you have a physical disability or are suffering from a physical disorder

Vulnerable victims must be informed within 1 working day if a suspect has been arrested or a warrant has been issued due to the suspects failure to attend at court.


Answer

The definition of a hate crime is:

Any criminal offence which is perceived by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by hostility or prejudice, based on a person's disability or perceived disability; race or perceived race; or religion or perceived religion; or sexual orientation or perceived sexual orientation or transgender identity or perceived transgender identity (Crown Prosecution Service).

The definition of a hate incident is:

Any non-crime incident which is perceived by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by a hostility or prejudice based on a person's race or perceived race/religion or perceived religion / sexual orientation or perceived sexual orientation/disability or perceived disability/transgender or perceived to be transgender (College of Policing).

To list, hate crimes and hate incidents are based or motivated by:

  • race or ethnicity
  • religion or belief
  • sexual orientation
  • disability
  • transgender identity

For example, a person is beaten up and whilst being attacked the offender makes offensive comments about that person's believed race or ethnicity / sexual orientation/religion or belief/disability, or transgender identity.

A hate crime also takes place when the crime is motivated by the offender's incorrect beliefs. For example, a person is beaten up and comments are incorrectly made about that person's assumed race or ethnicity / sexual orientation/religion or belief/disability, or transgender identity.

Other personal characteristics may be the reasoning behind certain incidents such as age and particular subcultures (e.g. Goths, Emos ), however, these are not considered hate crimes in law. Offences of this nature may still be prosecuted but not specifically as hate crimes. Specific legislation allows the courts to impose tougher sentences on offenders that carry out hate crimes.

Police take reports of these incidents very seriously and if you feel you have been the victim of a hate crime you should report the matter to your local police force. Reports can also be made online via True Vision who in turn report it to the police on your behalf, should you not wish to report it directly.

For further information please see the links in related information.


Answer

If a person sends threatening/abusive/offensive messages to another person via Facebook, Twitter, or any other social networking site, they could be committing an offence. The most relevant offences are 'harassment' and 'malicious communications. The offence of 'stalking' may also be relevant if a person is being targeted persistently by someone across various social media accounts, along with any other repeated, obsessive and intrusive behaviour, that causes the person alarm and distress. See Q151 and the links in Related Information for further details.

For harassment to be committed, there must be a 'course of conduct' (i.e. two or more related occurrences). The messages do not necessarily have to be violent in nature, but must be oppressive and need to have caused some alarm or distress. See Q497 for further information regarding this offence.

If there has only been a single communication, which would be insufficient for the offence of harassment (above), there could be an offence relating to malicious communications. For such an offence to be committed, a message must be sent to another person (or sent via a public communications network) that is indecent, grossly offensive, obscene or threatening/menacing.

You can report any possible offences to your local police force, who will advise whether they can progress the matter based on the full facts and your individual situation. In order to assist the police with their investigation, you must not respond to the message as it may encourage the sender and make the situation worse. Also, you could take a screenshot of the message so if it gets deleted later there will still be a record of what was said.

However, depending on the circumstances and the nature of the messages, you may wish to initially make a report to Facebook/Twitter etc., as they have processes in place for such situations, and may be able to simply remove the content and/or close down the person's account.

Please see the links in Related Information for Facebook and Twitter's Community Guidelines in relation to dealing with harassment.

Contact your local police force

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