Hate Crime Data Helps Law Enforcement Address Threat
January 19, 2021
Hate crimes have a devastating impact on victims, families, and communities. While investigating hate crimes is a top priority of the FBI's civil rights program, the FBI also works to collect reliable data on these crimes.
The FBI’s Hate Crime Statistics data collection includes hate crime data voluntarily reported by federal, state, local, tribal, and college and university law enforcement agencies nationwide.
Dependable data help law enforcement and the government to:
- Identify challenges and direct resources to combat these crimes;
- Support crime victims;
- Give leaders and the public information to understand hate crimes in their communities;
- Share information among law enforcement agencies; and
- Provide states with hate crime information by location, volume, and type.
The collection dates back to 1990, when Congress passed the Hate Crime Statistics Act. The Hate Crime Statistics Act and its amendments specify the types of bias reported to the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program as: race/ethnicity/ancestry, religion, sexual orientation, disability, gender, and gender identity.
Hate Crime Reporting
A hate crime is a crime like murder, arson, or vandalism with an added element of bias. Hate itself is not a crime—and the FBI is mindful of protecting free speech and civil liberties.
Law enforcement agencies report a bias crime to UCR only if an investigation finds objective facts to show the crime was bias-motivated. For UCR purposes, a law enforcement agency’s investigation determines if a crime was a hate crime, not findings of a coroner, court, jury, or prosecutor.
Possible Signs of a Hate Crime
It is sometimes difficult for investigators to know with certainty if a crime was the result of bias. Certain details may indicate a bias motivation in a crime, such as:
- The offender and the victim were of different protected categories, such as race, religion, or disability.
- The offender said or wrote something indicating a bias.
- The investigators found bias-related drawings, markings, symbols, graffiti, or items at the crime scene. (For example, a swastika was painted on the door of a synagogue.)
- The victim was engaged in activities related to their protected category.
- The incident coincided with a holiday or a significant date relating to a protected category.
How Law Enforcement Agencies Collect and Report Hate Crimes
The hate crime data collection process begins at the local agency level when an officer responds to the alleged hate crime. When gathering hate crime data, law enforcement agencies use a two-tiered process.
The first-level officer determines if there may be a bias motive. The second-level officer or unit reviews the facts and determines whether a hate crime occurred. Then, the second-level officer or unit submits the hate crime incident to the agency’s records management personnel, who compile the crime data and submit it to the FBI.
Hate Crime Statistics Publications
The UCR Program publishes hate crime statistics each November. The Hate Crime master files and downloads are available on the Crime Data Explorer. Requests for hate crime data files may be sent to email@example.com.
Why Agencies Should Participate
The UCR Program relies on state and local agencies to submit hate crime data. Reporting this data demonstrates agencies’ openness and transparency with the communities they serve. Reliable statistics help the FBI to provide a representative picture of hate crime to inform, educate, and strengthen communities.