House of Commons briefing paper: Hate crime

The current legislation on hate crime has a limited scope, as it is restricted to only certain types of hate crime, as well, who can be protected.

This is according to a January 2020 briefing paper from House of Commons on hate crime in England and Wales.

The briefing paper also finds that:

  • There is no single piece of legislation on criminalising hate crime in England and Wales, instead there is three different ways the law handles hate crime.
  • First, aggravated forms of hate crime, are processed through assault and criminal damage offences.
  • Secondly, enhanced sentences is available for offenders motivated by hatred on the grounds of race, religion, disability, sexual orientation or transgender status.
  • Thirdly, through offences of stirring up hatred based on race, religion or sexual orientation.
  • Enhanced sentencing in criminalising hate crime, has been criticised by the Law Commission, as being under-used by judges. The Law Commission has advised new guidance for judges, which would enhance consistency in sentencing, and would provide an effective response to hate crime.
  • Online offences of hate crime can only be prosecuted through section 1 of the Malicious Communications Act 1988, section 127 of the Communications Act 2003 and the Protection form Harassment Act 1997. The Law Commission 2018 review raised concern as to whether the laws around offensive communications provide the right protection to victims online.

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