Hate crime can take many forms, from physical attacks, threats, harassment or intimidation to criminal damage. There is lots of evidence of online hate crime too, where social media in particular is used to inflict abuse on others. More than a third of cases reported to our force are of a homophobic nature, but online hate crime can affect anyone. As well as sexuality, you could be targeted because of your race, religion, gender, a disability, or any personal characteristic.
It is sometimes less clear that you’ve experienced a hate crime online as it can be confused with offensive material or bullying – like when people make prejudiced comments or offensive jokes. If you’re not sure what a hate crime is or who can be affected by it.
If you see hate crime on social media or a website, we’re asking people to stand up for victims and call it OUT. Here are our top tips:
Offer support to the victim – as the hate crime is happening, if you feel safe to do so.
- Like supportive comments to show solidarity.
- Comment to say that you don’t agree with what has been said, to stand up for the victim.
- “Well that escalated quickly…” Defuse the situation using humour. A well-placed meme or GIF can halt a hateful thread and potentially prevent things from getting out of hand.
Understand – Console the victim after the event.
- Privately message the victim to show your support.
- If the victim is your friend, ask if they would like to talk about it over the phone, so they don’t feel so alone.
- You could also suggest them taking a break from social media and do something offline together to take their mind off it.
Tell – Afterwards, there are several options for reporting hate crimes and offensive material online.
- Report it to the network administrator. Most websites and social media networks do not allow comments, videos and photos that offend or hurt people. For example, Facebook, YouTube and BBC News all have simple ways for you to complain about a page or video. Otherwise, look out for the ‘contact us’ tab or ‘report this page’ button. Here is some advice from Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.
- If the content is illegal, you could encourage the victim to report it to the police.
How to report a hate crime to the police
Anyone with information about a hate crime is asked to report it either by calling 999 in an emergency or 101 in a non-emergency. You can also report in-person at a police station.
If you feel you can speak to us, we would prefer to talk to you about it over the phone or in-person. But if contacting us online is the safest way for you to get in touch, you can complete our online reporting form. If you don’t want to contact us directly please use an independent agency or report it to True Vision online at www.report-it.org.uk