Law Commission review into hate crime announced

The Law Commission is to complete a wide-ranging review into hate crime to explore how to make current legislation more effective and consider if there should be additional protected characteristics such as misogyny and age.

Professor David Ormerod QC, Law Commissioner said:

“Our project will ensure that the criminal law provides consistent and effective protection against those who commit crimes demonstrating hatred.

“We are pleased to have this opportunity to identify more effective ways of tackling hate crime in all its forms.”

The review, which will commence in 2019, follows a previous Law Commission report into hate crime entitled “Hate Crime: Should the Current Offences be Extended?”. This was published on 28 May 2014.

Building on the previous work, the project will review the adequacy and parity of protection offered by the law relating to hate crime and to make recommendations for its reform. It will also consider which characteristics (for example gender, age, disability) should be considered as deserving enhanced protection in criminal law and on what basis.

The terms of reference for the review

To review the adequacy and parity of protection offered by the law relating to hate crime and to make recommendations for its reform.

It includes:

  • Reviewing the current range of specific offences and aggravating factors in sentencing, and making recommendations on the most appropriate models to ensure that the criminal law provides consistent and effective protection from conduct motivated by hatred of protected groups or characteristics.
  • Reviewing the existing range of protected characteristics, identifying gaps in the scope of the protection currently offered and making recommendations to promote a consistent approach.

In particular:

  • to consider developments in the law since the publication of the Law Commission report “Hate Crime: should the current offences be extended” in 2014;
  • to consider whether crimes motivated by, or demonstrating, hatred based on sex and gender characteristics, or hatred of older people or other potential protected characteristics should be hate crimes, with reference to underlying principle and the practical implications of changing the law;
  • to consider the specific statutory incitement of hatred offences under the Public Order Act 1986 and to make recommendations on whether they should be extended or reformed;
  • to consider the impact of changing the law relating to hate crime on other aspects of criminal justice, including other offences and sentencing practice;
  • to ensure that any recommendations comply with, and are conceptually informed by, human rights obligations, including under articles 10 (freedom of expression) and 14 (prohibition of discrimination) of the European Convention on Human Rights;
  • consideration of the implications of any recommendations for other areas of law including the Equalities Act 2010.

Further information

The Law Commission is a non-political independent body, set up by Parliament in 1965 to keep all the law of England and Wales under review, and to recommend reform where it is needed.

If you have any media enquiries about the hate crime review story, please contact Dan Popescu on: daniel.popescu@lawcommission.gov.uk or 07784 275513