Hate crime: abuse, hate and extremism online Contents


Hate crime

1.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 personal characteristic. Hate crime can be motivated by disability, gender identity, race, religion or faith and sexual orientation.1

The inquiry

2.We announced this inquiry into hate crime and its violent consequences in early July 2016. Our decision to undertake the inquiry followed the murder of Jo Cox MP in June in the lead-up to the EU referendum. There was also evidence of an increase in the number of attacks on people from ethnic minorities and of non-British nationality, including on their community centres and places of worship, immediately following the referendum. In addition, our inquiry into antisemitism was already under way, which was raising serious questions about how to address wider issues around the actions of those holding extremist or fixated views.2 It therefore seemed particularly timely and necessary to launch this inquiry.

3.We have received a large volume of written evidence. We have taken oral evidence on a wide range of issues including Islamophobia, misogyny, far-right extremism, the role of social media in hate crime and the particular issues faced by Members of Parliament in relation to hate crime and its violent manifestations. Our witnesses have included academics, community organisations, social media companies, police forces and their representative organisations, the principal Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons, and Ministers. We are grateful to everyone who has contributed to the inquiry.

4.The announcement by the Prime Minister on 18 April that she would seek a General Election on 8 June means that we have not had time to consider our conclusions on the wide range of issues raised during the inquiry. We hope that the Home Affairs Select Committee in the next Parliament is able to consider this evidence further and propose wider recommendations on tackling hate crime and some of the central issues that emerged in our hearings, including far-right extremism and islamophobia. We are publishing this short report in the meantime to address one aspect of our inquiry—the role of social media companies in addressing hate crime and illegal content online—on which we have taken considerable evidence and where we want our conclusions to inform the early decisions of the next Government, as well as the immediate work of social media companies.

5.We also wished to record our deep sadness about the tragic death of Jo Cox MP and we hope that in the next Parliament the Home Affairs Committee will also look further at the risks from hate, abuse and extremism in public life.

1 Home Office Policy paper, 2010 to 2015 Government policy: crime prevention, updated 8 May 2015

2 Tenth Report, Session 2016–17, Antisemitism in the UK, HC 136

27 April 2017