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Crime: Hate Crimes

Volume 702: debated on Monday 16 June 2008

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Lord West of Spithead on 20 May (WA 174), how they define a hate crime; and whether the term “hate-crime” (whether or not hyphenated) is in any Act of Parliament currently in force. [HL3921]

The hate crime definition was agreed by the Association of Chief Police Officers to be:

a hate incident is any incident which is perceived by the victim or any other person as being motivated by hate or prejudice; and

a hate crime is any incident which contributes to a criminal offence, perceived by the victim or any other person as being motivated by prejudice or hate.

Hate crime is not specifically mentioned in any Act of Parliament. However, any act of violence will be brought under the appropriate legislation as determined by the Crown Prosecution Service.

The law as it stands protects everybody from violence such as assault, criminal damage or harassment. It also protects people from incitement to any offence, including offences such as harassment and criminal damage as well as all forms of violence. Existing legislation ensures aggravated sentencing for any offence which is motivated by hostility on the basis of race, religion, sexual orientation and disability. Guidelines ensure that there are a range of further aggravating factors which the court must take into account when sentencing. These include the vulnerability of the victim, additional degradation of the victim, and the offenders working in a group or gang.