Hate Incidents

'Hate incidents' and 'hate crimes' are terms used to describe acts of violence or hostility directed at people because of who they are or who someone thinks they are. They are motivated by hostility or prejudice based on disability, race, religion, transgender identity, or sexual orientation. This can be an incident against a person or against property and includes materials posted online.

When hate incidents become criminal offences they are known as hate crimes.  A criminal offence is something that breaks the law.  Some examples of hate crimes include: assaults; criminal damage; harassment; murder; sexual assault; theft; fraud; burglary; hate mail; harassment. 

The police and the Crown Prosecution Service take all hate crime very seriously. All police forces would want you to report hate crimes and they take all reports of hate crime very seriously.

Some examples of hate incidents include:
  • verbal abuse like name-calling and offensive jokes
  • harassment
  • bullying or intimidation by children, adults, neighbours or strangers
  • physical attacks such as hitting, punching, pushing, spitting
  • threats of violence
  • hoax calls, abusive phone or text messages, hate mail
  • online abuse, for example on Facebook or Twitter
  • displaying or circulating discriminatory literature or posters
  • harm or damage to things such as your home, pet, or vehicle
  • graffiti
  • arson
  • throwing rubbish into a garden
  • malicious complaints, for example over parking, smells or noise


Direct discrimination: This means treating someone less favourably than someone else because of a protected characteristic. In the case of age, treating someone less favourably than someone else may be justified. Another example of direct discrimination would be refusing to admit a student because of their race, for example because they are Roma.

  • It is not possible to justify direct discrimination, so it is always unlawful. There are, however, exceptions to further and higher education institutions that allow, for example, single-sex institutions to only admit students of one gender without this being unlawful direct discrimination.
  • To show that they have been directly discriminated against, they must compare what has happened to them to the treatment a person without their protected characteristic is receiving or would receive. So, a gay student cannot claim that excluding them for fighting is direct discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation unless they can show that a heterosexual or bisexual student would not be excluded for fighting. A student does not need to find an actual person to compare their treatment with but can rely on a hypothetical person if they can show there is evidence that such a person would be treated differently.
  • There is no need for someone claiming direct discrimination because of racial segregation or pregnancy or maternity to find a person to compare themselves to. The former is deliberately separating people by race or colour or ethnic or national origin and will always be unlawful direct discrimination; and for the latter the student must show that they have been treated unfavourably because of the pregnancy or maternity and there is no need to compare such treatment to the treatment of someone who was not pregnant or a new mother.
  • It is not direct discrimination against other students to offer a pregnant student special treatment in connection with the pregnancy or childbirth. And it is also not direct discrimination against a non-disabled student to treat a disabled student more favourably. 
Indirect discrimination: It occurs when you apply a provision, criteria or practice in the same way for all students or a particular student group, such as postgraduate students, but this has the effect of putting students sharing a protected characteristic within the general student group at a particular disadvantage. It doesn’t matter that you did not intend to disadvantage the students with a particular protected characteristic in this way. What does matter is whether your action does or would disadvantage such students compared with students who do not share that characteristic.
Indirect discrimination will occur if all following four conditions are met:
  • You apply (or would apply) the provision, criterion or practice equally to all relevant students, including a particular student with a protected characteristic. and
  • The provision, criterion or practice puts or would put students sharing a protected characteristic at a particular disadvantage compared to relevant students who do not share that characteristic, and
  • The provision, criteria, practice or rule puts or would put the particular student at that disadvantage, and
  • You cannot show that the provision, criteria or practice is justified as a ‘proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim

Indirect discrimination applies to all the protected grounds other than pregnancy and maternity, although something that disadvantages students who are pregnant or new mothers may be indirect sex discrimination.
In a case involving disability, if one’s duty to make relevant reasonable adjustments has not been complied with, it will be difficult to show that the treatment was proportionate.
Kent, like other organisations, uses Equality Impact Assessments (EIA’s) to ensure that it does not inadvertently create indirect discrimination. EIA’s test how a new process, development, idea or procedure will impact different groups of individuals with protected characteristics and are developed in consultation with those group. They act like equality risk assessments.

Direct and Indirect discrimination can be enacted in multiple ways:
  • Discrimination by perception is where the conduct or behaviour is based on the perception that an individual has a protected characteristic.
  • Discrimination by association is where an individual is treated less favourably because of that person’s association with another individual who has a protected characteristic.

However, please note that in Higher Education, considerations concerning the curriculum are not necessarily covered by the Equality Act as it is balanced against national policy related to free speech and academic freedom. This means you cannot always take action against an education provider if they teach something which you find offensive due to a protective characteristic. A fitting example would include it not being an unlawful act of 'religion or belief discrimination' for a module to teach about evolution if you believe in creationism or vice versa. 

At Kent, we take any and all occurrences of discrimination extremely seriously and encourage you to contact us as soon as possible to report any incidents you deem inappropriate. Reports also serve as opportunities to provide access the right support, even if it is not covered by the Equality Act.

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