New code and guidance for non-crime hate incidents

A new statutory Code of Practice and corresponding Authorised Professional Practice comes into force today for officers responding to reports of non-crime hate incidents.

The code, issued by the Home Secretary, provides guidance to the police in England and Wales for recording non-crime hate incidents (NCHIs). It sets out the common-sense and proportionate approach that should be adopted by officers.

The College of Policing’s Authorised Professional Practice for recording NCHIs has been updated to align with the content of the code. 

The code introduces an additional threshold test, which clarifies that personal data should only be included in an NCHI record if the event presents a real risk:

  1. of significant harm to individuals or groups with a particular characteristic or characteristics and/or that a future criminal offence may be committed against individuals or groups with a particular characteristic or characteristics
  2. For the purposes of the code, a ‘particular characteristic’ means race, religion, sexual orientation, disability or transgender identity, as defined in hate crime legislation. This test will enable the police to intervene where necessary to safeguard vulnerable individuals and communities.

Authorised Professional Practice is now in place for officers to operationalise the new code. It will support decision making, including whether and how someone’s personal data should be processed.

Chief Constable Andy Marsh, CEO at the College of Policing, said: “A new code and guidance are now in place for officers when responding to non-crime hate incidents.

“These incidents should not be recorded where they are trivial, irrational, or if there is no basis to conclude that an incident was motivated by hostility.”

Under the code, if an individual’s personal data is processed as part of a NCHI record they should be promptly notified unless the notification presents a safeguarding risk to the complainant.

Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, said: "Catching dangerous criminals and bringing them to justice should be the police's primary focus and I have been clear that in recording non-crime hate incidents, officers must always have freedom of expression at the forefront of their minds.

“I am pleased that the College of Policing has published updated operational guidance to ensure the Code of Practice approved by parliament is applied consistently.

“Now the police will only record non-crime hate incidents when it is absolutely necessary and proportionate and not simply because someone is offended.”

NCHI recording stems from the murder of Stephen Lawrence in 1993. The 1999 Stephen Lawrence Inquiry Report called for Codes of Practice to create “a comprehensive system of reporting and recording of all racist incidents and crimes”. NCHI recording has since expanded to cover all the particular protected characteristics covered by hate crime laws in England and Wales: race, religion, disability, sexual orientation and transgender identity. This data is vital for helping the police to understand where they must target resources to prevent serious crimes which may later occur.

The code was legislated for through the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022.

Officers should refer to the Authorised Professional Practice and College Learn (Recording Non-Crime Hate Incidents) for advice and further materials to support implementing the new code.

Contact Information

Jason Lavan

Media Relations Manager

College of Policing