Hate crime and hate speech – UK Government assessment
The number of recorded hate crimes increased between March 2021 and March 2022, although data has been affected by improvements in police recording practices and the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Many victims report dissatisfaction with police handling of cases. The legal framework for hate crime remains complex and affords varying protection to different groups. The UK Government has yet to respond to recommendations to address this.
- The aims of the UK Government’s Online Safety Bill, to make online services safer, particularly for children, are important. However, there are concerns about the broad scope of the proposed regulatory framework and its implications for freedom of expression. The Bill is likely to proceed, but with amendments, following changes in the UK Government.
- The complexity of the legal framework, and varying protection for different groups, leads to varied outcomes for victims, can obstruct effective investigation and results in inconsistent standards being applied in the prosecution and sentencing of hate crimes. The UK Government is yet to respond to the Law Commission’s report on hate crime laws that recommended a number of changes, including greater protections for victims of disability and lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) hate crime. The Law Commission did not recommend a new characteristic of sex or gender in hate crime laws.
- Hate crimes recorded by the police continue to rise in England and Wales. In the year ending March 2022, police recorded 155,841 hate crimes in England and Wales, a 26% increase compared with the previous year. Action by police to improve the recording of hate crimes in recent years may have contributed to this rise.
- In the year ending March 2022, 70% of recorded hate crimes were racially motivated. Racially motivated hate crimes increased by 19% between the year ending March 2021 and the year ending March 2022. 8,730 religious hate crimes were recorded by police, representing an increase of 37%. This is the highest number of religious hate crimes recorded since data began to be collected.
- The Crime Survey for England and Wales estimates that there were an average of 190,000 hate crime incidents annually between 2017 and 2020. Over the longer-term, the number of hate crime incidents has fallen, from 307,000 per year (combined 2007/08 and 2008/09 surveys) to 190,000 (combined year ending March 2018 and year ending March 2020 surveys), a drop of 38 per cent.
- The UK Government has not yet responded to findings from its consultation on measures to protect places of worship from hate crimes in England and Wales that ran in 2020.
- In the years 2017 to 2020, 55% of hate crime victims reported feeling very or fairly satisfied with the way that the police managed the incident, a lower proportion than for all crime (66%), while 27% of victims of hate crime were very dissatisfied with the police response (compared with 17% for all crime).
- While there has been progress in implementing the UK Government’s Hate Crime Action Plan in England and Wales, the UK Government has not specified how progress would be achieved and evaluated, and many reforms remain unimplemented.
Read more about the UK Government’s actions on hate crime and hate speech.