Are four out of five hate crimes prosecuted racially motivated?

15 February 2012

"More than four-fifths of hate crimes prosecuted last year were racially aggravated"

Press Association, 15 February 2012

"'Racist Britain' fears fuelled as hate crime prosecutions rise: Hate crime prosecutions have risen ten per cent"

Metro, 15 February 2012

According to both the Press Association and the Metro, the number of hate crimes prosecuted in the UK is rising, as is the number of racially aggravated crimes. The Metro reported that "Hate crime prosecutions have risen ten per cent" and that "Racist attacks accounted for nearly four fifths of the hate crimes that reached court in 2010/11".

The articles are based on new figures published by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), who have for the first time published figures for the number of racially aggravated and religiously aggravated crimes separately.


The report published by the CPS gives details of hate crimes prosecuted and the number of successful convictions. Historically, the CPS has broken these down into three categories: racially and religiously aggravated crime, disability hate crime, and homophobic and transphobic crime. The raw data provided for hate crime is still divided into these categories, but the report also gives details of racially and religiously aggravated crime separately.

The CPS report gives data for both prosecutions and successful convictions, although both the Metro and Press Association focus on the total number of prosecutions. According to the CPS, 15,284 hate crimes were prosecuted in 2010/11, of which 13,277 were racially or religiously aggravated. Of these, 12,711 cases were race hate crimes: 83.2 per cent of all hate crimes prosecuted, confirming the claims of the Press Association and the Metro.

The CPS figures also confirm that hate crime prosecutions have increased by 9 per cent in the last year, from 13,921 in 2009-10 to 15,284 in 2010-11. Similarly, racial and religious crime combined have also increased, from 12,131 in 2009-10 to 13,277 in 2010-11.

As a proportion of hate crime overall this is a slight decrease, from 87.14 per cent in 2009-10 to 86.87 per cent in 2010-11. This continues a trend from 2007-08 when racially aggravated crime accounted for 91.7 per cent of all hate crimes.

There has also been a considerable increase in the number of disability hate crimes prosecuted, from 183 in 2007-08 to 726 in 2010-11 which accounts for the falling proportion of racially and religiously aggravated crime over the last four years. This may be in part due to the way disability hate crime is defined and the definition applied. The CPS note that "There is no legal definition of a disability hate crime", and instead use their own definition:

"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 disability or perceived disability"

The CPS included a graph of racially aggravated crime over the last four years (reproduced below). However, although the figures above are published in the report, the CPS have not provided complete figures for previous years. Full Fact have contacted the CPS to try and obtain these figures, and will post an update when we have more information.

It should be noted that whilst the figures provided by the CPS and reported by the Press Association and the Metro refer to prosecuted crimes, this may not necessarily be representative of the actual number of crimes which have taken place.


The Metro and the Press Association are correct to state that prosecutions of racially aggravated crime accounted for more than four-fifths of prosecuted hate crimes last year, and that the number of prosecuted hate crimes is increasing. Although the proportion of hate crime prosecutions which are racially or religiously motivated appears to be falling, this is largely due to the measurement of disability hate crime.

Whilst the report published by the CPS gives some indication of an increase in racially aggravated prosecutions, the exact figures have not been provided.

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