14 May 2018

What to do if you witness hatred

View all news

If we witness someone spouting hateful abuse at someone on the street or on public transport, most of us know it’s not right – but many of us don’t know what to do about it.


So what should you do if you witness hatred?


1. Don’t do nothing

Everyone’s probably hoping someone else will say something – which means no-one is saying anything. That makes the victim feel even more isolated.

It’s up to us all to make clear that hatred is never OK.

2. Don’t put yourself at risk

Assess whether the hater is likely to be violent. Don’t confront them physically or make the situation escalate. Only intervene if you feel safe in doing so – and engage with the victim, not the hater (see 4).

3. Get help from others

Tell the bus driver or the train guard. If there are other witnesses, ask if they’ll join you in saying something. Once someone is going to stand up, others will be more likely to as well.

4. Talk to the victim

Ignore the hater and talk to the victim. Ask them if they’re OK. Talk to them about the weather, their journey, last night’s Eastenders. Anything – just doing this let’s them know that you’re on their side.

5. Report the hater

You can report hate crime to the police, or to organisations like the Community Security Trust and TellMAMA.

It can help in a criminal investigation if someone has filmed the incident, too – but just filming it, if no-one says anything, is only of limited use. Much better to talk to the victim and show them whose side you’re on.

If you don’t feel safe intervening, talk to the victim afterwards to check they’re OK and ask if there’s anything you can do to help.


Most of us agree that there’s no place for prejudice in Britain. Only a small and toxic minority hold hateful views – but when they voice them, it still causes immense harm and upset.


That’s why it’s up to all of us, as decent people, to stand up to prejudice if we see it.


Further resources:

Report hate crime to the police

Report anti-Semitism to the Community Security Trust

Report anti-Muslim hatred to TellMAMA

Open your eyes to hate

Maeril: ‘What to do if you are witnessing Islamophobic harassment

Hope not hate

British Future’s latest activity on Twitter