Hate Crime Awareness


Hate incidents and hate crimes occur when an individual is subjected to hostility or prejudice by another person because of either their race, faith, disability, sexual orientation and/or gender identity. These five ‘strands’ are known as ‘Protected Characteristics’.

Hate incidents and crimes can take many forms and may cause considerable distress, not only for victims but also for their families, friends, and wider communities. It is important to report each incident so that the victim can access support, and agencies can work together to stop them happening again.

Did you know… Any type of crime can be a hate crime? This is because when someone commits a crime, it is the motivation behind their actions which may make it a ‘hate crime’.

Example – Any individual who has been assaulted is a victim of crime and should be supported accordingly. If the offender shouts homophobic abuse before assaulting someone – this becomes a hate crime, as well as an assault.

Did you know… Where there is evidence that a person has been targeted because of their protected characteristic(s), a judge can increase the offender’s sentence.

Did you know… You don’t have to have one of the protected characteristics to be a victim of a hate crime? If, for instance, you are abused because someone thinks you are gay or that you have a particular faith, it doesn't matter whether their assumptions are accurate – it can still be treated as a hate crime.

How do I report it?

There are two reporting options for victims and witnesses:

1. Hate Incident Support Service

In West Sussex, you can use an online form to report a hate crime or incident.

Report a hate crime or incident online (external link)

Schools and other services can also use this form to report hate incidents.

The details will go to our commissioned Hate Incident Support Service, where the information you provide will be reviewed by Case Workers at Victim Support. If a significant concern arises, then Victim Support may need to contact other professionals to reduce the risk.

You may prefer to do this if:

  • you are unsure whether the incident constitutes a criminal offence
  • you wish to remain an anonymous victim or witness
  • you want someone to be aware of what has happened but without the need of support
  • you or someone else need support but do not have enough information or evidence to go through the Criminal Justice System
  • you don’t wish to report to the police at this time.

Please note: West Sussex County Council and Victim Support are not emergency services. If someone is in danger, please call 999 or text 18000

2. The Police

Emergency - If you believe that you or someone else is at risk of harm, you should report to the police by dialling 999. If you have difficulty speaking or hearing, a text phone is available on 18000. In this instance, the details about what happened can be gathered when everyone is safe.

Non-emergency - You may wish to report a hate crime to the police in a non-emergency, and you can do this by dialling 101. If you have difficulty speaking or hearing, a text phone is available on 18001 101 or you can report online via the Sussex Police website. When you report on 101, try to be clear about what has happened, and what was said. If you believe that someone has targeted you because of your race, faith, disability, illness, sexual orientation or gender identity – make this clear in your report.

What happens next?

If you have reported to the Hate Incident Support Service, either direct, or through the West Sussex County Council website, you should expect to hear back from them within a few days of sending the report. An Initial Response Officer or Case Worker will contact you to ask some questions and can help with the following; safety planning, practical support, emotional support, and advocacy. This support may be over the phone, via email, text, or face-to-face.

Police - As a victim of crime, you have the right to be informed of what action will be taken to:

a) ensure your safety

b) gather evidence

c) to identify the perpetrator

d) to forward your case to the Crown Prosecution Service.

For more information on your rights as a victim of crime see The Victims Code of Practice

The response you receive from the police, and the time taken, will be dependent on what you have reported and how you reported it. It is advisable to request your ‘Crime Reference Number’ when you report, so that you can relay this if you need to call again.

Strands of hate crime

The five strands (Protected Characteristics)

Gender identity

What is ‘Gender Identity’? The Oxford Dictionary definition of this is ‘a person’s perception of having a particular gender, which may or may not correspond with their birth sex.’

Transphobia is intolerance of gender diversity. It is based on the idea that there are only two sexes – male or female, which you stay in from birth. And furthermore, that people who fit gender stereotypes (by sounding, looking or behaving like men and women are ‘supposed to’) are somehow better than those who don’t.

Trans people and people with a transsexual history can also experience homophobia, because the abuser often neither knows nor cares how a person identifies, just that they are different in some way.

For more information on this subject, Vox has an article on their website 'Transgender people: 10 common myths' which shows harmful myths that transgender people frequently encounter.

The BBC’s ‘Ask Us Anything’ episode called 'Busting some common myths about being transgender' interviews three trans people who answer some of the most commonly searched questions online.

Galop has also produced a fact sheet on transphobia.

Sexual orientation

If someone is violent or hostile towards another person because of their sexual orientation, this is known as a homophobic hate incident.

Home Office figures show that reported LGBTQ+ hate crime has grown at double the rate of other forms of hate crime for the last two years, but even this is only the tip of the iceberg, as most hate crime goes unreported.

Only 1 in 8 LGBTQ+ people surveyed had reported the most recent incident that they had experienced to the police, with over half saying that they thought that the police wouldn’t do anything.

Almost a third who didn’t report said they hadn’t because they mistrusted or were fearful of the police.(Galop Hate Crime Report 2021)


Racism is a complex set of attitudes and behaviour towards people because of their ethnicity, skin colour or nationality.

Often this is based on:

  • a belief or ideology that differences in physical/cultural characteristics (skin colour, language, dress, religious practices etc.) dictate differences in personality, intelligence or ability, which lead to assumptions about racial superiority and inferiority.
  • the social or economic power of members of one ethnic group to promote, enforce or ‘act out’ such attitudes (adapted definition from Stella Dadzie's book - Toolkit for Tackling Racism)

Racism comes in many forms and is not just about hate crimes or individual acts of discrimination; the most powerful forms of racism are those that are part of societal structures and influence our everyday assumptions, even appearing normal and unremarkable.

Racism includes a range of things we think (prejudices, assumptions, stereotyping, fears, beliefs etc.) and what we do or say (discrimination, hate crimes, jokes, slurs, extremism).


Religious hate crimes and non-crime incidents are acts which target a victim because of the offender's hostility towards them or a group based on their faith, or lack of one.

The law does not protect our beliefs themselves, but it is based in human rights, meaning that we all have a right to hold our beliefs and to practice our faith in safety.

Anyone can be the victim of a religious hate incident. For example, someone may be targeted because of their partner’s religion.

Another example of a religious or faith hate crime could be when a place of worship is attacked or when leaflets attacking another religion or faith are circulated publicly.


Disability hate crimes and non-crime incidents are acts which target a victim because of the offender's hostility to a disabled person or disabled people in general.

So any incident or crime which is perceived by the victim to be a disability hate crime will be recorded as such. Examples of hostility might include: abuse; name calling; blocking aisles and priority seating; removing equipment or even violence.

These are often different from other hate offences in that these might be perpetrated by friends, family members or carers. This factor also means that disability hate crimes are less likely to be reported (this information is part of a Disability Rights UK article, called Disability Hate Crime Network).


What actions might cause concern

Unconscious Bias/Prejudices

This relates to perceptions of ourselves and others based on stereotypes and misinformation that have often been building up in our unconscious minds for many years developing into prejudices we aren’t aware we hold. We can often identify our conscious biases but must work harder to find and tackle prejudices we form unconsciously.

Unconscious prejudices are often developed from early childhood due to a variety of influences, such as parents, peers, experiences etc, and impact on how we view ourselves and others, and how we behave.

As they are unconscious, these biases often go unchallenged and are viewed as fact. If unchecked, unconscious biases can lead to us treating others in discriminatory and harmful ways, in an overt manner or through subtle microaggressions.


A microaggression is often used to describe both intended and unintended regular language, behaviour or environments that attack, undermine or insult aspects of people’s identities in a prejudicial way.

They are often subtle and are most powerful when normalised as part of everyday behaviour, they can even appear seemingly positive.

Common microaggression's include statements like:

  • Misgendering someone when talking to or about them.
  • Saying “You don’t look disabled”.
  • Assuming someone is unsafe because of their religion.
  • Telling a person who is LGBT+ that they don't "seem gay".
  • Assuming someone is a good runner because of their ethnic background. 


This is defined as discrimination or prejudice against gay people on the assumption that heterosexuality is the normal sexual orientation.

It is the assumption that heterosexuality is the social and cultural norm as well as the prejudiced belief that heterosexuals, or “straight” people, are socially and culturally superior to LGBT+ people.


What can we do?

Within the organisations we are in, we can check their equality policies and find out about any processes to report discrimination. What do our organisations do to create an anti-discriminatory environment? How inclusive is the organisation we work in? Is there more work to be done?

We can challenge prejudices, unconscious biases and microaggressions in ourselves and others and encourage others to do the same.

We can use critical thinking skills to explore what has influenced how we see the world and what sources of information we value, pay attention to and why.

We can check whether our news sources are neutral or biased. Have we checked the facts behind news stories and have we checked the same story from different sources?

If we use a term, behaviour or statement that offends others we can listen to why the person is offended and better understand, rather than be defensive. It may be unintentional, and often we are unaware of why something is viewed as offensive but if we can take the time to understand why, we will be less likely to unwittingly offend again.

None of this is easy but the aim of this page and the links within is to support us all to at least begin having these conversations with ourselves, our families, our communities and work colleagues.


For members of the public

Below are a list of videos, articles and websites that provide more information on the Protected Characteristics and how we can help to prevent Hate Crime:

For teachers 

We have a Services for Schools page which has access to free lesson plans and Victim Support Hate Incident Support Service posters, amongst other information.

This website features up-to-date information for schools about West Sussex services, including information on Hate Crime.

For help with logging in or using West Sussex Service for Schools, please contact your school office as general access requests can be administered by your school.

For any additional queries, you can contact the School Services team via email.

For social media

Please feel free to download these images for use on your social media channels:

See me, not only my faith - Anne Frank See me,not only my disability - Fiona Pilkington & Francecca Hardwick See me, not only my gender identity - JoJo Striker See me, not only my sexual orientation - Melania Geymonat See me, not only my ethnicity - Stephen Lawrence

For further information and resources, the following websites may be of interest:

How do I report hate crime in an emergency?

If someone is in danger, please call 999 or Text Phone 18000.


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