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The Comedy of Errors

National Bystander Awareness Day: What to do if you witness a hate crime

13 March 20 words: Kat Kotlarska

It’s Friday 13 March. National Bystander Awareness Day (#NBAD) - a day when we raise awareness of safe and simple ways you can intervene in hate incidents. This important initiative has its roots in Nottingham and was established in 2018 by a local social enterprise Communities Inc. 

Since the vote to leave the European Union, the UK has experienced the highest levels of hate crime since records began. When hate crimes take place, there are often other people present who can make a big difference in the situation, but often do not know how to act or intervene safely. However, armed with some information, bystanders can make a difference without putting themselves at risk. Bystander intervention is particularly important when most hate-motivated situations occur in public spaces and consist mainly of harassment, intimidation and name-calling.


There are safe and simple things you can do to help.



– Watch, be a witness. Don’t turn away as it gives the message to the offender that their behaviour is normal and acceptable.

– Observe and pay attention to what is happening, the description of the offender, where you are, what time it is, so that you have the best information when you report it.



– Inform security, staff or other people that might be able to help.

– Once you are in a safe space, you can then report the incident as a witness directly to the Police. Remember – in case of an emergency always call 999.



– Check-in with the victim if possible, even if it’s after the incident.

– Check if the victim is OK.

– Ask if they need you to call anyone for them.

– Let them know of support services available and how they can report the incident using this guide.


As a part of National Bystander Awareness Day 2020, Communities Inc partnered with prominent local writers, Bridie Squires and Shreya Sen Handley, who wrote poems inspired by #NBAD’s message.

They will be performing the poems at a #NBAD event at 38 Carrington Street on Friday 13 March, 5.30pm. Free tickets here.

To learn more about National Bystander Awareness Day (#NBAD) visit the Communities Inc website 

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