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Understanding hate crimes and non-crime hate incidents

A one minute guide for establishments supporting children and young people

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What is a hate crime?

A hate crime is any criminal offence 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
  • a person’s religion or perceived religion
  • a person’s sexual orientation or perceived sexual orientation
  • a person’s disability or perceived disability
  • a person who is transgender or perceived to be transgender

The personal characteristics above are those monitored by central government and are covered in statue within the criminal justice system. Police should also record and flag non-monitored personal characteristic as hate crime where there is the perception of hostility or prejudice towards a person’s characteristic. Devon & Cornwall Police monitor Sex/Gender (Misogyny/Misandry) as an addition strand.  

Understanding hate crime

5% of prejudice and racism incidents that were reported to the Local Authority last year were recorded as hate crimes.

A criminal offence is something that breaks the law.  Some examples of criminal offences include:

  • Assaults.
  • Criminal damage.
  • Harassment.
  • Public Order.
  • Theft.
  • Malicious Communication.

What is a non-crime hate incident (NCHI)?

Any incident where a crime has not been committed, but where it is perceived by the reporting person or any other person that the incident was motivated by hostility or prejudice based on: 

  • a person’s raceor perceived race
  • a person’s religion or perceived religion
  • a person’s sexual orientation or perceived sexual orientation
  • a person’s disabilityor perceived disability
  • a person who is transgender or perceived to be transgender

Understanding non-crime hate incidents

Hate incidents are malicious acts that do not meet the threshold for a crime. 10% of prejudice and racism incidents in schools that were reported to the Local Authority in the academic year 22/23 were recorded as hate incidents. Examples include:

  • Verbal abuse eg name-calling and offensive jokes.
  • Refusing to work with a peer or treating them differently based on their personal characteristic.
  • Bullying or intimidation.
  • Abusive gestures.
  • Online abuse on social media.
  • Malicious complaints, for example smells or noise.
Hate crime logo saying zero tolerance

Preventing hate crime and non-crime hate incidents

Through education legislation and your Equality duty, your establishment should take measures to prevent discrimination, hate crime, and non-crime hate incidents.

  • Review your Equality and diversity policy.  Does it outline your commitment and how as an establishment you will meet the needs and protect all staff and children.
  • Through Equality, diversity, and inclusion pupil forums our Devon children tell us that they want the ‘hard truth’ in their assemblies.  Ensure you have trained staff delivering clear and impactful assemblies, that look at the real impacts of such incidents.
  • Raise awareness through National hate crime week in October.
  • Ensure your safeguarding policy outlines how bilingual children and parent(s)/guardian(s) can report incidents in their home language.
  • Be aware of common vocabulary children are using.  For example ‘Mate crime’ is a phrase used to explain coercion and grooming.  Fellow peers and people around them may often target vulnerable or isolated children, befriending them and will begin to do harmful things to that child, including hate crimes.
  • Develop an Upstanders culture within your establishment.
  • Set out your Equality objectives to tackle any themes in your establishment.
  • Take stock of your establishment – audit all aspects of your school, curriculum, environment, publications, website, staff and children to gain an understanding of areas celebrating diversity and areas that need improvement – with the aim to have a fully inclusive environment.
  • Have a clear system for children to report incidents.  Children often don’t trust that anonymous reporting systems are truly anonymous, so ensure you share this information clearly and explain how all incidents will be dealt with. 
  • Include questions around equality and diversity in your pupil voice surveys.
  • Ensure staff are trained in understanding equality and diversity, as well as being able to recognise their own biases.  Staff who model the core values of equality and diversity are key to a safe establishment culture.
  • You should complete risk assessments for specific contexts, such as changing rooms, taking into account all safeguarding risks that might be present and taking appropriate action to keep all children safe. This may highlight areas of the school which are vulnerable to contextual safeguarding concerns. You should undertake a contextual safeguarding audit and put a plan in place to reduce associated risks.

Managing hate crime and non-crime hate incidents

When hate crime or non-crime hate incidents occur, your establishment should have clear guidance on how incidents are managed and seek to take positive action to address the situation, and support those impacted.

Hate crime within a school setting involving school children should in the first instance be managed by the school and their own safeguarding team.  The ‘When to call the Police flow chart’ at the end of this guide can be used to help assess if the situation is suitable to be managed by the school, or whether the circumstances warrant further escalation to the police.

Non-crime hate incidents involving school-aged children, where the alleged behaviour takes place on school premises, should be referred to the school’s safeguarding team to assess the risk and decide on a proportionate response. 

This includes incidents in a classroom during a lesson, or in the playground. It may also include incidents involving a school employee and/or content or forms of expression that are provided by staff as part of the school curriculum. It does not apply to incidents during school trips or on school transport to and from school.

The school safeguarding team should implement appropriate safeguarding measures for any children involved, and where appropriate, should ensure that a parent or guardian is notified and present when a child may be questioned.

If there is a concern that the school may not to be able to adequately address the concern, there is a risk that the incident may escalate further or result in criminal conduct (either within or outside the school), this may warrant police involvement.

Supporting the target(s)

  • Ensure the target(s) have a safe quiet place they can go to.  They may require an exit/timeout card for a while.
  • Explain the process to the target on how the incident will be managed.  Explaining that the assailants will be questioned, families notified, intervention/education for the assailant and possible sanctions. 
  • Explain that you won’t be able to give them all the details, but that you will check in on them and tell them once the process has been completed.
  • Often after an incident the establishment might not feel like a safe place for the target(s). If the child is anxious or worried about attending the establishment, complete a My safety plan with them and their family.  This will provide an opportunity on how collectively everyone can mitigate feelings of being unsafe.
  • Explore if counselling is appropriate.  Stop.Breathe.Think. provides free counselling to some families, with nearly no waiting time.  Our website has various other charities and agencies who can offer support.  If a hate crime, the Police will provide some guidance on other agencies who can support also.
  • You can also explore wider community support through the Ethnically diverse communities – directory of service.
  • You can direct parent(s)/guardian(s) to our guide on understanding bullying, prejudice and racism incidents.

Establishment response

  • Report all incidents of bullying, prejudice and racism to the local authority.
  • Ensure that if parent(s)/guardian(s) are bilingual that you book an interpreter for any discussions.  No one under the age of 18 should act as an interpreter as this can cause a safeguarding concern.
  • Review any risk assessments or create one for any new identified risk.
  • Include clear messages in your assemblies.  You may need to bring a planned assembly forward in response to an incident.
  • If you would like to discuss the incident or your establishments wider equality and diversity provision you can book a free Bullying, prejudice and racism incident (BPRI) clinic.

Useful websites and contacts

Useful websites and contacts

Police logo
When to call the police flow chart for hate crimes