Break the cycle of visible hate. Speak up, speak out, together let’s stop it.

What is Hate Crime?

What is a hate crime?

If someone has harmed or abused you either physically or verbally because you have a disfigurement or visible difference, then that may be a disability hate crime or hate incident.

We use the term ‘disfigurement’ to describe a mark scar or condition that affects appearance. This could include but there are many others too:

  • Birthmarks
  • Scars
  • Craniofacial or congenital conditions (meaning a condition you are born with)
  • Paralysis
  • Skin conditions
  • Hair loss
  • Cancer or other disease

If a crime is motivated by a hostility or prejudice based on your visual appearance then that may be a hate crime and it should be dealt with seriously by the authorities.  

You may not like to identify with the term ‘disability’, but in terms of hate crime law, that is how your visible difference is protected, so this is the way to report. 

Click here to view our resource specifically for police and other agencies who handle disfigurement hate crimes


The definition

A hate crime is ‘any criminal offence which is perceived, by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by a hostility or prejudice’ based on the victim’s presumed or actual race, religion, sexual orientation, disability or transgender identity.

That ‘perceived’ part is what gives YOU the power to decide whether you have been victimised because of the way you look.

If you tell the police that you believe an incident to be a hate crime, then they HAVE to log it and investigate it as one.  

What sorts of crimes could it be? 

A hate crime could be:

Verbal abuse
Physical abuse (shoving, punching kicking)
Threatening behaviour (taunting, spitting)
Offensive or threatening texts, phonecalls, letters
Damage to property
Exploitation by a friend, carer or someone you know for a criminal purpose 

Sometimes a single incident may not be considered a hate crime, but if it becomes a pattern of events and you are repeatedly targeted then it will be.

Why report?

Being targeted by a crime can be distressing, but by reporting it you can get the help and support you need and prevent it from happening again, or to other people. Even if you think the incident was only minor, it is still important to report it as it helps the police understand what is happening, and can enable the authorities to respond more effectively.    

The more we talk about the issue, the better the authorities will get at dealing with it.

How to speak up

Speaking up about being harmed isn’t just about going to the police. It’s just as important to tell any of the people below

  • A social worker
  • A housing association
  • A community organisation
  • A GP, if you have been injured or it is causing you emotional distress

Or anyone else in your community who can offer you support.

For more information about the campaign, please contact

This project was funded by the Home Office. Whilst this guidance applies across the UK, some elements relating to Scotland and Northern Ireland may differ from that relating to England and Wales.  The UK Government’s Hate Crime Action plan “Action Against Hate, 2016” applies specifically to England and Wales. The responsibility for Scotland and Northern Ireland sits with their own devolved administration.