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A hate crime is “any crime that is motivated by hostility on the grounds of race, religion, sexual orientation, disability or transgender identity”.

Relevant legislation

There is no single piece of legislation criminalising hate crime in England and Wales.  Instead, there are three different ways in which legislation deals with hate crime:

Instead there are three different ways in which legislation deals with hate crime:

  • offences under the Public Order Act 1986 of stirring up hatred on the grounds of race, religion or sexual orientation;
  • aggravated offences under the Crime and Disorder Act 1998, where perpetrators of certain “basic” criminal offences (including assault, criminal damage, public order offences and harassment) can be charged with an aggravated form of the offence (carrying a longer maximum sentence) if they demonstrated or were motivated by hostility on the basis of race or religion; and
  • provisions for enhanced sentencing under the Criminal Justice Act 2003 where a crime is motivated by race, religion, sexual orientation, disability or transgender identity.

Disability hate crime is only covered by the last of these approaches, enhanced sentencing.

The Crown Prosecution Service

The Crown Prosecution Service has issued detailed guidance to prosecutors involved in cases of disability hate crime: see Prosecution Policy and Guidance: Guidance on Prosecuting Cases of Disability Hate Crime.

This covers matters such as the use of the enhanced sentencing regime and ways in which victims can be supported through the prosecution process.


The latest Home Office statistics on hate crime were published on 13 October 2016: Hate crime, England and Wales, 2015 to 2016.

Crown Prosecution Service performance statistics on prosecuting hate crime are contained in the annual Hate Crime Report.

The latest publication for 2014/15 and 2015/16 is available on the Crown Prosecution Service website: Hate crime and crimes against older people report 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 – PDF.

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