The increasing confusion about what hate crime means, who it refers to and what it covers is having its own divisive effect. Inflated hate crime figures are reinforcing division by painting a picture of a Britain more bigoted and hate-filled than it actually is.
It has also created a two-tier justice system, because when it comes to victims, some have special status. Consider this extraordinary passage from the website of the Crown Prosecution Service: “All police forces would want you to report crimes . . . But, if it could be a hate crime, the police will take it even more seriously.” The College of Policing’s guidance goes further, asserting that because “hate crimes can have a greater emotional impact on the victims than comparable non-hate crimes . . . all victims should not be treated the same”. Got that, you white and straight and faithless, you “cisgendered” and able-bodied? If you get beaten up, your bruises and your bleeding are less important in the eyes of the law, less worthy of strong punishment.