Changes in data from year to year say more about recording methodologies than the actual prevalence and impact of hate crimes. For example, higher figures might simply mean that countries are recording hate crimes more diligently or that victims are reporting these crimes to the authorities more often. Simultaneously, lower figures do not necessarily mean that fewer hate crimes are being committed; they may be an indication of under-reporting.
Under-reporting remains a key challenge. Many victims do not come forward to report hate crimes. This happens for a number of reasons, ranging from language barriers to mistrust in the authorities or fear of reprisals. ODIHR works closely with civil society to overcome this challenge and promote and assist co-operation between civil society and governments.
It is also difficult to track cases at all stages, from investigation through to sentencing, due to different recording procedures across the criminal justice system. For instance, police forces may use different definitions than prosecutors.