The simplest definition of what a hate crime is, is a crime committed against a victim due to his or her perceived role in a social group. Social groups can be defined by many factors such as sexual orientation, race, disability, religion, age, gender and many other factors. Within this essay I aim to evaluate the causes of hate crime and also to assess the impact of crime on victims and the strategies used for responding to hate crime. The types of hate crime I am going to be focusing on are race, sexual orientation and gender.
What is hate crime?
Defining hate crime has proven to be a difficult task, shown by the multiple academic and professional definitions that exist. Barbara Perry (2001) suggests that “as is the case
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It was earlier suggested by Barbara Perry “as is the case with crime in general, it is very difficult to construct an exhaustive definition of hate crime”. But why is it so difficult to define hate crime? I am now going to consider some of the key issues with defining hate crime, starting with what exactly hate is. As Andrew Sullivan (1999) points out, we still have a remarkably vague idea of what hate actually is. If we look at the definitions presented then we can see that none of them speaks of ‘hate’ as a casual factor. Rather, the definitions refer to prejudice or bias. Clearly then hate crime thus defined isn’t really about hate but about criminal behaviour motivated by prejudice, of which hate is just one small and extreme part”. As well as understanding hate it is important to understand what amount of prejudice is acceptable before becoming a crime. The ACPO (2000, 2005) definitions imply that “any prejudice on the part of the offender will constitute a hate crime. But as Jacobs and Potter have suggested, offenders probably have many prejudices, both conscious and subconscious, against people who are, for example, rich, poor, successful, and unsuccessful and so on. So if we start looking for prejudice in offending behaviour, they argue, then the closer we look the more we will find. [..] every crime committed by one group against another could be labelled as a hate crime”. Due to the difficulties defining hate crime outlined above many questions