I saw a hate crime: what to do?

Victims of hate crime can suffer both physically and psychologically. Shock can be particularly strong, so the reaction of those around you is crucial. Witnesses can help both the victim and the police who arrive at the scene.

If you see a hate crime, to help the victim you can:

  • if you are sure you are safe (don’t get involved in a situation if it puts you at risk too), call the emergency number 112. It is important that the police and, if necessary, the medics arrive on time;
  • find other witnesses who can help you;
  • make a noise that scares the attacker and gives the victim a chance to escape;
  • try to remember as much information as possible, taking notes or photos if you can. Try to record the time, place, car registration number, appearance and other details of the attacker – this information will be useful for investigating the crime and proving the attacker’s guilt. If you have the opportunity, film the event;
  • collect contact details of other witnesses – even anonymous statements can be very useful;
  • help victims: speak in a calm tone, do not leave the victim alone, decide together on the next steps – what to do now, where to go, how to get further help, etc.[1].

Hate crimes are not necessarily violent or physically threatening. Harassment, bullying and other acts that target a person’s identity can cause harm. To help in such cases, support the person who is being publicly harassed because of his or her nationality, sexual orientation, gender and other characteristics. Ignoring the aggressor, talk to the person – about the weather, travel, holidays, etc. – to show that the person is not alone and to help him/her feel safer. Also look for “allies”. For example, if you see harassment on a train, inform the staff, if you see it at work, inform your employer, etc.[2].

[1] A fact sheet prepared by experts from the Human Rights Monitoring Institute. In Hrmi.lt.

[2] Everything You Need to Know About Witnessing a Hate Crime. In Thehideaway.org.uk.