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Hate Crime

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The notion that there is such a thing as ‘hate crime’ has been wholeheartedly adopted by the criminal justice system in the United Kingdom within the last decade. It has been eagerly imported from the United States where the idea has a much longer provenance. In the UK the foundations of the ‘hate crime’ policy domain were laid in the 1990s by the inquiry into the racist murder of Stephen Lawrence and the provisions against racially aggravated offences of the 1998 Crime and Disorder Act — one of the UK’s earliest ‘hate crime’ laws. Elsewhere in Europe the ‘hate crime’ policy domain is beginning to be established. At cross-national level the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) has been coordinating policy initiatives on monitoring and policing ‘hate crime’. International NGOs, such as Human Rights First, have incorporated the notion of ‘hate crime’ into their vernacular of human rights concerns. But what is ‘hate crime’? Who are the perpetrators? What are the consequences? How prevalent is it? These are the questions addressed in this chapter.