Hate crime is not a new phenomenon but rather a new concept. Hate crime is when a person is victimized because of their ethnic background, religion, sexual orientation or transgender identity or for representing such a group of people. Although there is disagreement regarding what should be included in the term, there is international consensus that the occurrence is a result of a lack of respect for human rights and the equal value of all people.
It is difficult to grasp the extent of the hate crime problem, since hate crime is not a specified crime in the Penal code but an aspect of the motive behind a crime. There is no specific crime code for the police to use when recording a hate crime in their computer system. Since 2008 however, there is a field in the police reporting system whereby the police can mark a report as containing a suspected hate crime.
What does the hate crime statistics consist of? The main part of the hate crime statistics consists of police reports with an identified hate crime motive. The motive is primarily assessed on details from the narrative text in the report. Reports with possible hate crime motives are captured through three data collection steps. The first step is a search on hate crime related words in the narratives of reports relating to crime types commonly found in hate crime cases. The second step is an examination of all police reports relating to the crime types hate speech and unlawful discrimination. The third step is a review of all reports marked as possible hate crimes by the police. For the 2011 statistics about 40,000 reports were examined manually, about 5,490 of which were identified by Brå as hate crimes.
The hate crime statistics also consist of self-reported exposure to xenophobic and homophobic hate crimes, based on details from the Swedish Crime Survey. This information works as a complement to the statistics on identified hate crime reports, since not all hate crimes are being reported to the police. According to the Swedish Crime Survey 2011, which measures exposure during 2010, approximately 81,000 persons (16—79 years) stated that they were subjected to xenophobic hate crimes in 2010 and approximately 19,000 persons (16—79 years) were subjected to homophobic hate crimes. It should be noted though that regarding exposure to hate crime, the results in the Swedish Crime Survey is uncertain due to low numbers of respondents, why the true extent might be under- or over-rated.
The following motives are included in the hate crime statistics Some countries hold no statistics on hate crime, while others present statistics on one or many hate crime motives. In Sweden, the following hate crime motives are included:
- Other Anti-religious
Xenophobic/racist hate crimes most common In 2011, as well as previous years, most hate crime reports were identified as being xenophobic and/or racist. Out of about 3,900 xenophobic/racist reports in 2011, just over 800 were found to be Afrophobic and just over 180 Anti-Roma. Additionally, anti-religious (Islamophobic, anti-Semitist, Christianophobic and other anti-religious) motives were considered in about 650 reports, while homophobic, biphobic and heterophobic motives were identified in just over 850 reports. Transphobic motives are less common among the identified hate crimes, with 52 identified reports in 2011.
Unlawful threat/non-sexual molestation most common type of crime Unlawful threat/non-sexual molestation is the most common type of crime, followed by violent crimes and defamation. However, some crime types are more characteristic for certain motives. Hate speech, for instance, is more common for Anti-Semitic hate crimes. Violent crimes are over-represented among homophobic and Afrophobic hate crimes, while unlawful discrimination is more common among Anti-Roma crimes. The 2011 report presents for the first time Christianophobic hate crimes as an own category, for which criminal damage and graffiti is the most common crime type.
Hate crime can be committed anywhere Hate crime occurs in various places where people spend time in their everyday life. The most common crime scene in the identified hate crime reports from 2011 was a public place, such as in the street, a town square or a park. Homes and work places were also common, as were other places such as shopping centres, shops and restaurants/cafés. In addition, over the years more crimes have come to be committed on the internet.
Anti-religious hate crimes least likely to be cleared up Of all identified hate crimes reported in 2010, 7 per cent were cleared up on personal basis by the end of March 2012. Personal basis means that a suspect has been linked to the crime through a decision to prosecute, that he or she has accepted a prosecutor fine or been granted waiver of prosecution. The number of clear-ups was the lowest for anti-religious crimes. In just 5 per cent of the reports could an offender be linked to the crime. A possible explanation for this could be that offences with traditionally low clear-up rates, like criminal damage and graffiti, are common among anti-religious hate crimes.