‘Defining and Recognising are not the Same’: Challenges to Tackling Hate Crime in a Performance Culture

Published 16/12/2009
Type Article
Author(s) Simon R Mellors
Corresponding Authors Simon R Mellors, Force Diversity Manager, South Yorkshire Police

Hate Crime can be defined as that section of criminal behaviour that is motivated by the victim’s membership or perceived membership of a particular group. Victims are commonly targeted on the basis of their ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, faith or a disability. In some instances legislation exists to prohibit it, for example the specific offence of ‘Inciting Racial Hatred’. In other cases, where hatred is contributory in the commission of a more generic offence, for example a criminal assault, it is regarded as an aggravating factor, and is thus accorded greater priority in its investigation. A successful prosecution can result in greater sanctions against the person convicted. However, it is a reality of the UK criminal justice system that not all hate crime is reported, not all of that reported is recognised for what it is, and not all of that recognised is recorded or prosecuted as such.

This article considers some of the complexities in how hate crime is defined and the issues relating to how it is addressed. With reference to the application of a performance framework to policing, this includes barriers to reporting by victims and recognition by police, and barriers to accurate recording. Included is a review of some of the available academic literature on the subject, but also an assessment of some of the systems and practical considerations of the police service in seeking to tackle the issue effectively.