Bullying, harassment and hate incidents

Information on bullying, harassment and hate incidents for all staff, students, visitors or contractors; what they are, how to report bullying, harassment and hate incidents, why they should be reported and how to get support.

“UWE Bristol aspires to be a truly inclusive university, a place where everyone thrives, there is mutual respect and each individual can see differences as strengths."

Steve West, Vice-Chancellor

How to report a bullying, harassment or hate incident

Any student, staff member, contractor or visitor can report to the University a hate incident (including bullying, harassment and incidents of sexism) that they have witnessed or personally experienced. The incident must relate to UWE Bristol staff, students or visitors on UWE Bristol premises or in the context of University business. Students and staff may wish to report incidents they have experienced or witnessed ‘off campus’ through the reporting process or through external agencies such as the Bristol Hate Crimes Services.

Hate Incident Monitoring Form

The Hate Incident Monitoring Form is to enable the University to record all levels of incidents that affect our staff, visitors and contractors.

If you require action to be taken or the incident resolved, the relevant department or service must also be contacted.

For more information on the relevant route for taking action, please see the options below:  

Reporting options specifically for students

  1. Report and Support – this new online platform has been developed for students to report hate incidents and get practical support and guidance. Please note that this platform is just for students. 
  2. Students’ Union – any student can contact The Students' Union at UWE and report an incident via The Students’ Union at UWE Advice Centre. Advice Centre staff and volunteers will provide you with a reporting form and signpost you to the relevant University process to resolve the incident.

Reporting options specifically for any UWE Bristol member of staff

  1. Line Managers – any staff member can report an incident to their line manager/supervisor who will record the incident using the UWE Bristol reporting form and with their consent, explore the involvement of Human Resources, Dignity at Work Advisers and/or any external support agency. If a staff member’s line manager is the perpetrator, a staff member can report to their manager’s line manager. This applies to professional service or academic staff.
  2. Campus Trade Unions – any union member can contact a campus Trade Union representative and report an incident. The Trade Union representative will provide a reporting form and signpost the individual to the relevant University process to resolve the incident.

Reporting options for staff, visitors and contractors

Hate Incident Monitoring form – download the University’s Hate Incident Monitoring form and return it to  equalityanddiversityunit@uwe.ac.uk. The Equality and Diversity Unit will use the form to signpost you to the relevant University department to resolve the incident.

Reporting options for all

  1. The Campus Police Officer - Any individual can talk directly and report an incident to the Campus Police Officer. The Campus Police Officer can be contacted via the 9999 UWE Bristol Gatehouse telephone number. All designated UWE Bristol staff (including the Campus Police Officer) will assist the individual in accessing the reporting form and advise on the most appropriate University process to resolve the incident.
  2. Bristol Hate Crime Services - This service is for victims of any type of hate incident including racist, faith-based, disablist, homophobic, transphobic, age-based or gender based. One Stop Reporting line – 0800 171 2272 (freephone).
  3. UWE Bristol Corporate Complaints inbox – any individual can send the University details of a complaint via complaints@uwe.ac.uk. See more information on the University’s complaints procedure.

All individuals reporting incidents to the University will be supported using the following principles:

  • Trained individuals will respond in a sensitive, positive, non-judgemental, victim orientated and culturally competent manner.
  • Individuals will provide additional information on UWE Bristol support structures/networks, and external agencies.
  • Individuals will provide information on how UWE Bristol will respond to incidents.

What is a hate incident?

Hatred is a strong term that goes beyond simply causing offence or hostility. A hate incident is any incident (which may or may not be a criminal offence) which is perceived by the victim or any other person witnessing the incident, as being motivated by prejudice or hate.

Hate incidents can be motivated by prejudice about:

  • Race, colour, ethnic origin, nationality
  • Religion and faith (or lack of religious belief)
  • Gender or gender identity (including resentment of transgender people, transsexuals and transvestites and transphobia)
  • Sexual orientation (including homophobia and biphobia)
  • Disability (including physical disabilities, sensory impairments, learning disabilities, mental health issues and any other impairments)

Examples of hate incidents

Hate incidents can reveal themselves in many ways. For example:

  • Verbal and physical abuse, bullying (for example, including cyber bullying via social networking sites), hate mail etc
  • Harassment or victimisation
  • Verbal and/or physical threats to staff, students or members of the public
  • Negative coverage of particular groups through formal or informal university communications
  • Name calling and humiliating/degrading language or actions
  • Offensive graffiti
  • Defacing posters

Legal definitions of hate incidents

The definitions below reflect the legal definition of hate incidents:  

Disability hate incidents

A disability hate incident is any behaviour which is perceived, by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by hostility or prejudice based on a person's disability or perceived disability. For example, a disabled student being called derogatory names in the Students’ Union bar.

Homophobic/biphobic hate incidents

A homophobic/biphobic hate incident is any behaviour which is perceived, by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by a hostility or prejudice based on a person's sexual orientation or perceived sexual orientation. For example, a couple in a same sex relationship being made to justify their relationship.

Race hate incidents

A race hate incident is any behaviour which is perceived, by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by hostility or prejudice based on a person's race or perceived race. For example, a black and minority ethnic staff member is racially abused by a student’s parent. 

Religious hate incidents

A religious hate incident is any behaviour which is perceived, by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by a hostility or prejudice based on a person's religion or perceived religion. For example, a student’s Christian belief system being ridiculed in one of the University’s Learning Zone areas.

Transphobic hate incidents

A transphobic hate incident is any behaviour which is perceived, by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by a hostility or prejudice against a person who is transgender or perceived to be transgender. For example, comments made about a trans person’s clothing or appearance.

UWE Bristol students, staff, contractors and visitors with specific (or a combination of) protected characteristics can face hate incidents related to their protected characteristic.

It is important to note that under these definitions a person does not have to possess the protected characteristic for them to have been the victim of. For example, a person does not have to be a disabled person to be a victim of a disability hate incident. Neither does a person have to be gay to be a victim of a homophobic hate incident. It may be that the perpetrator perceives the victim to be gay. Under the Equality 2010, this is referred to as ‘discrimination by perception’.

What is a bullying and harassment incident?


Under the Equality Act 2010, harassment is any unwelcome comments (written or spoken) or conduct which violates an individual's dignity; and/or creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment. Harassment is related to one of the following:

  • Age
  • Disability
  • Gender reassignment
  • Race
  • Religion or belief
  • Sex and sexual orientation

Harassment can involve verbal abuse and name calling, offensive graffiti or electronic/paper post and can be received via text message, e-mails or social networking sites like Facebook. Harassment is a criminal offence.


The main difference between bullying and harassment is that, conduct will only amount to harassment if it is carried out for a prohibited reason (eg on the grounds of race, gender, religion etc), while bullying is indiscriminate and can manifest in many different ways.

The Advisory Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) define bullying as:

"Offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour, an abuse or misuse of power through means intended to undermine, humiliate, denigrate or injure the recipient”.

Conduct that may amount to bullying could be:

  • Spreading malicious rumours, or insulting someone by word or behaviour
  • Ridiculing or demeaning someone — picking on them or setting them up to fail
  • Exclusion or victimisation

What about sexism on campus?

UWE Bristol’s hate incident reporting enables any student, staff member, contractor or visitor to inform UWE Bristol of unwanted harassment or bullying that is also motivated by misogyny, sexism or contempt for women. This will also include everyday physical, verbal, emotional psychological, financial or cyber abuse of women.

New research published by the NUS reveals that 50 per cent of study participants identified "prevailing sexism, 'laddism' and a culture of harassment" at their universities. ‘Lad culture’ was defined by participants as a group or pack mentality residing in activities such as sport and heavy alcohol consumption, and ‘banter’ which was often sexist, misogynist and homophobic. Many reported misogynist jokes circulating in their friendship groups which made them feel uncomfortable, and pressures to engage in profuse sexual relationships which made it difficult to establish and maintain commitments.

Why should you report bullying, harassment and hate incidents?

Bristol is a great place to live, work and study but, like any large city, it contains a few individuals with negative and prejudiced views about others. The University, local police and local council all have policies in place to tackle prejudice and antisocial behaviour and they provide services for people to report incidents.

The University and police take these reports very seriously. UWE Bristol believes that any type of hate incident or harassment is unacceptable. Reporting incidents will help us to make communities safer for those living, working and studying here.

It is important that the University, the Police and Bristol’s Hate Crime Services know about hate incidents so that they can work out where there are issues and what extra support might be needed. If the University and its partners don't know about it then they can't stop it.

Hate incidents can be particularly hurtful to victims as they are being targeted solely because of their personal identity, their actual or perceived gender, gender identity, racial or ethnic origin, disability, sexual orientation, religious beliefs or faith. The nature of these incidents can have such far-reaching consequences for diverse communities.
The impact on victims or witnesses is different for each individual, but many experience similar problems. The confusion, fear and lack of safety felt by victims and witnesses of these incidents can have a ripple effect on their particular groups (racial or religious, lesbian, gay, bi-sexual or transgender and vulnerable people) in the wider community.

What action will be taken after an incident is reported?

If you report an incident without disclosing your details the report will be used for monitoring purposes to build a picture of what is happening across the UWE Bristol community.

If you report an incident with your details the incident can be investigated fully and you can get the support you need.

All incidents reported to the University via the Hate Incident Monitoring Form will be monitored by the Equality and Diversity Unit. The Equality and Diversity Unit will produce quarterly collated responses from all reporting processes and share relevant and appropriate data and trend findings with the Equality and Diversity Forum and the Equality Management Group.

Annual monitoring data will be included in the University’s annual published equality data report and used to inform future activities to reduce the levels of incidents involving students, staff and visitors.

University responses to cases of hate incidents will be managed by the three University procedures relating to:

  • Complaints procedure
  • Student conduct procedure
  • Staff Dignity at Work procedures

UWE Bristol works closely with Avon and Somerset Police and will take positive action to eliminate hate incidents. For certain incidents that constitute a crime, a perpetrator could be liable for prosecution. The victim will be fully involved in resolving the incident and the University will support the victim to make the right decision.

External reporting centres

The following agencies will be promoted as additional avenues for the reporting of hate incidents:

  • Bristol Hate Crime Services (BHCS) - A collaboration of agencies led by S.A.R.I. (Stand Against Racism and Inequality) with Brandon Trust, Bristol Mind and Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Bristol are working together to deliver hate crime and incident support services for Bristol.  
  • Local agencies such as the Citizens Advice Bureau and other community voluntary services can also receive incident reports and will provide advice and support.
  • True Vision provides a 24 hour online reporting service, with information on support agencies.

Support services and external agencies

Primary support for the reporting, resolution and future learning from hate incidents will come from UWE Bristol internal support services. These are:

  • Students’ Union – for students
  • Student Services (Student conduct procedure) – for students
  • Line Manager, Employer’s Assistance Programme, Dignity at Work procedure – for staff
  • Trade Unions- for staff

A wide range of external agencies will be promoted as alternative reporting routes or additional areas of support.

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