If you’ve experienced a hate crime, you may want to report it to the police. Reporting hate crimes can make a huge difference and defend your right to be free of harassment, assault and intimidation. It also allows more targeted action to be taken against perpetrators of hate crime, and contributes to more accurate national statistics.

Whether you plan to pursue your case after reporting it or not, below is some guidance on navigating the reporting process, and what to expect from the police.

How do I report?

There are a few different ways to report a hate crime to the police:

Online - The police have developed an online portal for reporting hate crime called True Vision. The online form is easy to understand and asks for details about the incident (where, motivation, how many people etc). Once the form has been submitted it is processed by your local police force, and an officer will aim to contact you within 48 hours.

Calling 101 - This is the national non-emergency number for the police. You can report a hate crime by calling and asking for the Community Safety Unit. They also provide help and advice about your situation. This is also available for the deaf or hard of hearing via a textphone service on 18001 101.

In person - It’s also possible to report a hate crime at your local police station. This allows you to speak to an officer face to face. 

Through a third party - Galop, the LGBTQ+ anti-violence charity, can report an incident on your behalf, and offer you support after an incident. 

What should I say?

If you’re reporting by phone or in person, you’ll be speaking with an officer or someone working in a police call centre. It’s important to let them know what has happened, highlighting the type of hate crime (transphobic, homophobic) as once they are given this information they are bound by the rules to record it this way.

If you’re nervous or anxious then that’s perfectly normal, just try as best you can to tell the officer what happened as clearly as you can manage.

Whoever you’re dealing with should provide you with a crime reference number. Be sure to note this down in case you need to talk to someone else about your incident.

Statements, investigations

The police may ask to meet you face to face in order to take a statement and go through what happens next. They’ll probably ask you what happened again, and ask you to write and sign a witness statement. This is an opportunity to go into as much detail as you need and discuss what will happen next. 

You are also able to give a victim impact statement. This is an opportunity for you to talk about the personal impact of what happened: what emotions you’ve experienced, medical problems, damage to property, and so forth, and generally talk about what it’s like to have experienced this kind of anti-LGBTQ+ hate crime. This statement can be read out in court. It also allows you to say whether you would like a court to consider awarding you financial compensation for what happened.

If what you’ve experienced is a criminal offence (see our page “What is a hate crime?” for more details) then the police will usually investigate it. This involves looking for evidence such as video footage or CCTV, internet records or forensics. They will also try to find the perpetrator and ask for their account. This process can take a while - anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. The police should keep you up to date with the process and how the investigation is progressing.

If there is sufficient evidence the police will speak with the Crown Prosecution Service. They decide whether to start a criminal trial, and take the case to court. If they decide not to pursue the case then you can appeal that decision, this is called the Victim’s Right to Review. Galop provides specific advice and assistance on this issue to LGBTQ+ people.

What if I’m not being treated properly?

It’s the right of every citizen to be treated with dignity and respect by the police, and their responsibility to ensure every case is treated seriously. If you think you’ve been subjected to unfair or discriminatory treatment, then you can contact an advice charity like Galop, complain to the Independent Office for Police Conduct, or even seek legal advice. 

For more detailed advice around hate crime, and what the process of reporting, and going to court looks like, check out Galop's guide to LGBTQ+ hate crime.