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to ask what you consider to be "Hate Crime"

(44 Posts)
TessOfTheDinnerbells Mon 12-Sep-11 12:33:28

are there any MNers with legal knowledge of this & can you define what would be considered a "Hate Crime" say Vs. Prejudice against race or disability?

Also, is this the same definition that you all had in mind?

JosephineB Mon 12-Sep-11 12:51:17

As I understand it, hate crime is a crime which is focused on a specific group and which has the capacity to terrorise all members of that group. for example, a gay bashing doesn't just affect the immediate victim but intimidates all gay people in the area. (and I have long argued that rape should be seen as a hate crime)

Prejudice includes individual actions / behaviours which don't necessarily meet the standard to count as criminal behaviour (eg if you're always rude to disabled people this may not be a crime but it is certainly prejudice)and which don't necessarily impact on the whole group (although it can).

Does that help?

TessOfTheDinnerbells Mon 12-Sep-11 13:01:56

Just "Googled" it. (other search engines are also available! smile)

The resulting links varied enormously being something as simple as name calling (hate crime charity) all the way to it having to have been a normal crime of any sort committed because of the persons disability, race etc...

Seems to be a very "woolly" term...

allday Mon 12-Sep-11 13:05:05

I would see a hate crime as criminal and prejudice as non criminal. It would be prejudiced to not shop in a particular shop because of the race/disability/sexual orientation of the owner but it would be a hate crime to put their windows in.

Birdsgottafly Mon 12-Sep-11 13:12:44

A hate crime is one that is directed at an indiviual because of a difference in that person eg MH/SN/it can be racial, however the law covered discriminatory crimes (sexismrasicm etc) well, so the term hate crime was introduced, as there was a gap in the law.

The police have to have a reason to get involved, 'hate crime' gave the gap a title, rather than it just being a disagreemernt between adults, so they could act.

Prejudice is a held belief, and legal. Discrimination is acting on prejudice and illegal. Because the law has to be written in a certain way, these terminologies were introduced so the 'law' could act on them. Hate crime bridged gaps in the law.

Birdsgottafly Mon 12-Sep-11 13:14:05

Mencap explain hate crime well.

www.mencap.org.uk/

OhdearNigel Mon 12-Sep-11 13:16:07

Hate crime is any crime that is aggravated or motivated by a hatred of a persons' ethnicity, religion, disability, sexuality. (off force policy for the police force I work for)

TessOfTheDinnerbells Mon 12-Sep-11 13:19:25

This link gives examples of the confusing way in which the law deals with the issue of disability hate crime (amongst other vulnerable / minority groups)

Hate Crime Dossier

TessOfTheDinnerbells Mon 12-Sep-11 13:21:15

OhdearNigel: Is harrassment of a person because of their differences seen as harrassment, anti-social behaviour, a hate crime or all three depending on what the target figures are looking like during that particular quarter (cynical i know!)

TessOfTheDinnerbells Mon 12-Sep-11 13:22:37

sorry forgot the "?". Meant it as a genuine question and not an antagonistic statement.

OhdearNigel Mon 12-Sep-11 13:28:16

There is no actual offence of "hate crime". It is a group of aggravating factors contained in legislation covering already existing offences. I won't bore you wiht the detail. However these "hate crimes" are treated as priority investigations, are treated as a priority both by the courts and the crown prosecution service.

In your example therefore, if a person was being targetted because of their disability, if the legal definition of harassment has been satisfied, it would be investigated as harassment. If a crime is committed, it will be investigated as such, figures notwithstanding.

OhdearNigel Mon 12-Sep-11 13:31:29

Also an aggravated crime will carry a more severe penalty.

However, aggravating factors only apply to certain categories of crime (eg public order offences, some offences against the person. There is no offences of religiously aggravated burglary, for example. However, if criminal damage was being committed because of racial hatred this fact would obviously be put before the court and would be an aggravating factor when the judge passes sentence - although it is not an aggravated offence.

I'm not sure I've explained that very well, it's a bit of a complex topic.

TessOfTheDinnerbells Mon 12-Sep-11 13:33:12

So is there no actual legal penalty for targetting vulnerable people because of their social differences? People such as the learning disabled, (as shown in the mencap campaign) are as much fair game as the rest of society, despite being much easier and weaker targets?
Are those who commit crimes against these social groups given heavier sentences?

TessOfTheDinnerbells Mon 12-Sep-11 13:35:12

Has the Equalities Act had any bearing on this?

OhdearNigel Mon 12-Sep-11 13:38:47

Ok, embarrasing given my last post but the following classes of offences can be religiously or racially aggravated

1) Public order
2) Harassment
3) Criminal damage :blush:
4) Assaults

Section 146 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 requires the courts to consider disability or sexual orientation hostility as an aggravating factor when deciding on the sentence for any offence. This section applies where the court is considering the seriousness of an offence committed in any of the circumstances outlined below:
Those circumstances are –

(a) that, at the time of committing the offence, or immediately before or after doing so, the offender demonstrated towards the victim of the offence hostility based on –
1) the sexual orientation (or presumed sexual orientation) of the victim, or
2) a disability (or presumed disability) of the victim, or

(b) that the offence is motivated (wholly or partly) –
1) by hostility towards persons who are of a particular sexual orientation, or
2) by hostility towards persons who have a disability or a particular disability.

The court must treat the fact that the offence was committed in any of those circumstances as an aggravating factor, and must state that finding in open court.

OhdearNigel Mon 12-Sep-11 13:40:22

"So is there no actual legal penalty for targetting vulnerable people because of their social differences? People such as the learning disabled, (as shown in the mencap campaign) are as much fair game as the rest of society, despite being much easier and weaker targets?"

Yes, because they would be convicted of the original crime and sentenced in accordance with the aggravated factor of disability.

Birdsgottafly Mon 12-Sep-11 13:41:40

The Equality Act tightened up leglislation on discrimination, but it has been the various charities and of course quite a few deaths of people with LD's that have gone towards the justice system taking it more seriously.

Giving harrassment the title of 'hate crime' does mean that it should be taken more serious and acted upon it quicker, but this varies across the whole legal system and as Mencap shows, the law has further to go.

Birdsgottafly Mon 12-Sep-11 13:51:47

Also from the victims POV, if they are in HA/Council accomodation (or other), giving what they are going through the title of 'hate crime' supports their application for re-housing and allows them to tap into funding to help them with a house move, rather than plunging them into poverty and having to move into a private unsuitable property.

TessOfTheDinnerbells Mon 12-Sep-11 14:06:24

but, from my own instinctive and emotional POV, and

TessOfTheDinnerbells Mon 12-Sep-11 14:10:09

(sorry for the cut off)... there needs to be a public awareness raised around just how much extra sentencing a crime would attract when it gains the appendage of "aggravated" and involves the vulnerable.

There really does seem to be a lack of education both in schools and the wider community about this "Hate Crime" as an issue.

Birds: But the re-housing support is only available to those, for example, not living with their parents in a house owned outright?

TessOfTheDinnerbells Mon 12-Sep-11 14:11:15

so maybe we should extend this to another question for both Parents and Teachers:

How aware are your children / pupils of the issues of Hate Crime? Should more be done?

TessOfTheDinnerbells Mon 12-Sep-11 14:11:50

and.... What part does the internet & sites such as MN play in this education?

OhdearNigel Mon 12-Sep-11 14:15:59

Are you doing some research OP ? You are asking a lot of questions...

TessOfTheDinnerbells Mon 12-Sep-11 14:21:22

No research as such just a testing of the MN barometer for me to mull over. No professional reasons at all. Don't want to out myself here to RL so can only say that this is genuine with a personal slant.

onagar Mon 12-Sep-11 14:22:01

That seems to be good news to me - that it has to be a crime before it can be a hate crime. When I debate with people about religion for example you get some who will try and claim that disagreeing with them counts as a hate crime.

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