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Police officers’ experiences as victims of hate crime

Rob C. Mawby (Department of Criminology, University of Leicester, Leicester, UK)
Irene Zempi (Division of Sociology, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK)

Policing: An International Journal

ISSN: 1363-951X

Article publication date: 13 April 2018

Issue publication date: 26 July 2018




The purpose of this paper is to fill a research and literature gap by examining the nature and impact of hate crime victimisation on police officers, and their responses to it. The research explores victimisation due to the occupational stigma of policing and the personal characteristics and identities of individual officers.


The research design is qualitative, based on 20 in-depth interviews with police officers in one English police force. Thematic analysis was applied to the data.


All participants had experienced hate crime arising from their occupational or personal identities. Initially shocked, officers became desensitized and responded in different ways. These include tolerating and accepting hate crime but also challenging it through communication and the force of law.

Research limitations/implications

This research is based on a small sample. It does not claim to be representative but it is exploratory, aiming to stimulate debate and further research on a contemporary policing issue.

Practical implications

If further research works were to confirm these findings, there are implications for police training, officer welfare and support, supervision and leadership.


The police occupy a problematic position within hate crime literature and UK legislation. This paper opens up debate on an under-researched area and presents the first published study of the hate crime experiences of police officers.



The authors are grateful to the anonymised police force and its participating members who made the research possible. Rob Mawby would like to thank the University of Leicester’s Criminology Department for allowing Rob research leave during semester one 2015-2016.


Mawby, R.C. and Zempi, I. (2018), "Police officers’ experiences as victims of hate crime", Policing: An International Journal, Vol. 41 No. 5, pp. 526-538.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited

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