A report from the Law Commission states that the offence of “stirring division” could extend into private homes.
Currently, in England and Wales, hate speech is only considered an offence when it is committed in public, or in a private place where it can still be heard outside.
The report explains that within legislation, there is an exception for hate crimes “where words or behaviour are used or written material displayed within a dwelling, provided that they cannot be seen or heard outside that or another dwelling”.
The Law Commission report proposes that “the dwelling exception should be removed from the stirring up offences”, meaning that words exchanged within a home could lead to a police probe and a potential prison sentence.
The report is part of a 500 page consultation on hate crime laws by the Law Commission.
What is the legal definition of a hate crime?
The Metropolitan Police states that a hate crime is defined as “any criminal offence which is perceived by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by hostility or prejudice based on a person’s race or perceived race; religion or perceived religion; sexual orientation or perceived sexual orientation; disability or perceived disability and any crime motivated by hostility or prejudice against a person who is transgender or perceived to be transgender”.
A hate crime can fall into one of three main types: physical assault, verbal abuse and incitement to hatred.
The offence of incitement to hatred occurs when someone acts in a way that is “threatening and intended to stir up hatred”.
How to report a hate crime
You can report a hate incident or crime online via the True Vision website.
Once you’ve filled out the online form on the website, it will be sent directly to your local police station.
Alternatively, you can use the self reporting form which you can then pass on to your local police force.
You can also report an incident directly to the police by either visiting the police station in person, or by calling.
When you report the incident, you should ask for something called an “incident reference number”, which will help you with any further dealings with the police in reference to the report.