Hate crime

Report it - don't stay silent about hate crimeHate crime awareness week

National Hate Crime Awareness Week takes place in October each year and took place from 12-19 October 2019.

For further information or how to get involved see the links below:

What is a hate crime?

A Hate Crime is motivated by malice or ill will towards a social group by: 

  • Race
  • Sexual orientation
  • Religion/faith
  • Disability
  • Transgender/gender identity (Offences (Aggravated by Prejudice) Act 2010)

Hate crimes are hateful and target marginalised and vulnerable members of our communities with devastating effect on both victims and their families.

A hate incident is any incident that is not a criminal offence, but something which is perceived by the victim or any other person to be motivated by hate or prejudice.

Third party reporting

In some cases victims/witnesses of Hate Crime do not feel comfortable reporting the matter directly to the Police and may be more comfortable reporting it to someone they are familiar with.

To ensure all victims/witnesses are able to report Hate Crimes, Police Scotland works in partnership with a wide variety of partners who perform the role of third party reporting centres. Staff within third party reporting centres have been trained to assist a victim or witness in submitting a report to the police and can make such a report on the victim/witnesses behalf.

Examples of third party reporting centres participating in the scheme range from Housing Associations to Victim Support offices and Voluntary Groups.  Find your nearest third party reporting centre.

Ayrshire Equality Partnership

Ayrshire Equality Partnership logo

The Ayrshire Equality Partnership (AEP) is a multi-agency partnership aiming to support the promotion of equality and diversity including encouragement of good relations across all protected characteristic groups in Ayrshire. The group has been working together to provide opportunities for professionals and local people to develop their knowledge and skills and to encourage greater interaction among communities

Membership includes representation from:

  • Ayrshire College
  • Ayrshire Valuation Joint Board
  • Community Justice Authority
  • The three Ayrshire Councils and Health and Social Care Partnerships
  • NHS Ayrshire & Arran
  • Police Scotland
  • Scottish Fire and Rescue Service
  • University of the West of Scotland

More help and advice can be found in this document produced by AEP: Hate Crime and how to report it (PDF 389 Kb). You can also view frequently asked questions below.

Police Scotland defines Hate Crime as “any crime which is perceived by the victim or any other person as being motivated (wholly or partly) by malice and ill-will towards a social group”.

There are currently five social groups, actual or presumed, covered in terms of Scottish legislation. You do not have to be from the social group to be the target of hate abuse.

  • Race – Describes the physical characteristics of a person.  Ethnicity describes the cultural identity of a person. 
  • Religion – A set of beliefs that is held by a group of people which includes any religious / belief group even those of no religion. 
  • Sexual orientation – A person’s identity based on emotional and/or physical and/or romantic attraction to individuals of a different sex, the same sex or more than one sex. 
  • Transgender identity – An umbrella terms for those whose gender identity or expression differs from their gender at birth and conflicts with the ‘norms’ of society. 
  • Disability - A physical or mental impairment that has a ‘substantial’ and ‘long-term’ negative effect on your ability to do normal daily activities.  There are many hidden disabilities such as diabetes, auto-immune conditions, respiratory conditions, learning difficulties like dyslexia, and mental illness, which are covered. Conditions such as HIV, cancer and multiple sclerosis are also covered. This list is not exhaustive. 

If you believe that you have been a victim or have witnessed a hate crime, tell the Police by using one of the methods as described below.  There is no tolerance to Hate Crime and Police will record and investigate any complaint they receive.

Any crime can be a Hate Crime.

If you experience or witness a Hate Crime, whether it’s a crime or not and no matter how trivial or unimportant you may think it is, your complaint will be recorded and taken seriously when reported to the police.

You can make a report by the following methods:

Many people, for various reasons, are reluctant to report crime directly to the police. Victims and witnesses of hate crimes can report, without contacting the police directly, through a Third party Reporting Centre. The Third Party Reporting Centre is a safe and supportive space to discuss your complaint. If you want to report it to the police they can do this on your behalf. The police act on this as if they had received the report directly from you.

You can ask the Third Party Reporting Centre to give as much or as little personal information to the police as you want - you don’t have to give your name if you don’t want to. These centres have received appropriate training and can provide you with any additional support or advice required.

You can find a list of the Ayrshire Third Party Reporting Centres on the Police Scotland website.

Online reporting lets you make a direct and confidential report to the police through their website. The report can be anonymous although this may limit the action that the police can take. To report online visit the Police Scotland website 

Remember – always call the police on 999 if you need immediate help

There are a number of reasons why reporting Hate Crime is important.

  • If you are a victim you can receive support and advice
  • It could stop the perpetrator from offending again
  • All reports help build a picture of Hate Crime in your community. They tell us if there’s a problem in a particular neighbourhood or if a community is being targeted. Then we can tackle the problem.
  • It may prevent a minor situation developing into a more serious one
  • You will help to raise awareness of the issue and lead to a change in attitudes
  • Your information may lead to an arrest and conviction
  • You will help us to prevent hate incidents in the future

For further information on Hate Crime visit the Hate Crime Scotland website.

The police will record the incident that you have reported and then carry out an initial investigation to determine whether the incident falls under the legal definition of a crime or breaches any statutes. If it does, it will then be recorded as a crime. If it doesn’t meet the criteria of a crime, police will record it as a hate incident.

The police will then carry out a crime investigation. This will involve interviewing victims, witnesses and suspects, looking at other sources of evidence such as CCTV footage or forensic evidence. If they believe they have enough evidence to support a prosecution they submit a report to the local Procurator Fiscal. The Procurator Fiscal (PF or Fiscal) works for the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS), which is the body responsible for prosecuting crime in Scotland.

The Procurator Fiscal (PF) considers the police report and decides if there is sufficient evidence to proceed. If there is, the Procurator Fiscal will then decide what, if any, action it is appropriate to take. Actions range from prosecution in court, direct measures such as warnings, fiscal fines, compensation offers and social work diversion.

The Procurator Fiscal can also decide to take no action. When this happens, the victim can ask for an explanation of the decision. If court proceedings are appropriate, the Procurator Fiscal will decide which court these should be taken in. This decision will depend on the nature of the offence, the sentencing powers of the respective courts and whether the accused has a criminal record.

Contact Information

Corporate Officer - Equality and Diversity
Council Headquarters
London Road
Kilmarnock
KA3 7BU
Telephone: 01563 576244
Textphone: 01563 576167 
Adult Protection Unit
Civic Centre North
John Dickie Street
Kilmarnock
East Ayrshire
KA1 1HW
Telephone: 01563 576728