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Common Misconceptions around Hate Crimes

‘Hate Crime’, it’s a term that you unfortunately hear a lot about in the media but what does it mean and what are some common misconceptions?
“A crime, typically one involving violence, that is motivated by prejudice on the basis of ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or similar grounds.” (Met Police, 2023)

The definition of a hate crime seems quite simple, let’s explore some assumptions and misconceptions we may have around them:
All hate crimes are violent in nature – While a lot of hate crime might involve physical violence this is not true for every case. For example, hate crimes can also include vandalism, threats, harassment or verbal abuse.
Hate crime only targets racial or Ethnic Groups – Whilst you may hear about a lot of hate crimes being racially motivated, different groups are also targeted on the basis of characteristics such as gender, religion, sexual orientation and disability. Last year hate crimes were at an all-time high and those against Transgender individuals doubled compared to the year before. (Independent, 2022)
Hate Crimes Are Rare – Hate crimes actually occur more frequently than reported statistics suggest. During the Crime Survey done in 2021 only 47% of hate crimes were reported. (Crest, 2021). In some cases, this could be because victims are not confident or are fearful to come forward. They may also be worried about a possible Court process or sadly, may even accept the incident as a part of everyday life.
Hate crimes are committed by organised groups most of the time – This is not always the case, a lot of hate crimes are committed by individuals who have no affiliation with a group. Often individuals who commit hate crimes have not really thought about the reasons for their behaviour or the impact it can have.

Hate Crimes Are Always Overt and Obvious – Whilst hate crimes that are obvious may get reported on more often there are also subtle hate crimes. For instance, microaggressions, discriminatory practices, or online harassment can all be forms of hate crimes.
Hate Crime Legislation Infringes on Freedom of Speech – A narrative you may hear, especially on social media, is that hate crime legislation infringes on free speech. However hate crime laws are designed to address acts that harm or threaten individuals based on their identity and protected characteristics, not to suppress free expression of ideas.
If you work with individuals or groups who have committed or are in danger of committing a hate crime, our Intervention Hub is designed to support individuals in addressing problematic thinking associated with harmful behaviour such as Hate Crimes. For a trial or to learn more about the Intervention Hub click the link below:


Dearden, L. (2022) “Hate crimes reach record high as offences against transgender people double,” The Independent, 6 October. Available at: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/hate-crime-transgender-uk-figures-b2196759.html.

What is a hate crime (2023). Available at: https://www.met.police.uk/advice/advice-and-information/hco/hate-crime/what-is-hate-crime/ (Accessed: September 7, 2023).

Olajide, P. (2022) “The state of hate: trends in hate crime over the past decade,” Crest Advisory, 19 July. Available at: https://www.crestadvisory.com/post/the-state-of-hate-trends-in-hate-crime-over-the-past-decade.

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