National frameworks to address hate crime in Norway

This page provides information on the national frameworks to address hate crime in Norway. The information provided here should be viewed alongside data presented on Norway's hate crime report page.

Hate crime recording and data collection

Hate crimes are defined as criminal offences motivated by hatred or negative attitudes directed towards a person or group due to their ethnicity, religion, belief, sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression, or disability.  In Norway, any type of criminal offence motivated by the aforementioned grounds can be considered a hate crime. The term encompasses hateful and discriminatory speech, but also violence and threats, criminal damage, incitement to a criminal offence, and reckless behaviour, such as stalking a person or violating their peace.

The police in Norway record all hate crimes reported to them. Recording happens through manual coding. The police record criminal cases based on the victim's perception. If the victim does not recognize the possible presence of bias motivation but the investigator notes the presence of bias indicators, then they use a flagging option in the system to record a hate crime. If recorded correctly, the case is prioritized by the police and the prosecution, according to guidelines in place since 2018.

Hate crime cases are flagged in the police system when they are first registered. As the recording happens manually by police officers, it is possible that some cases do not get flagged from the beginning. It is also possible to flag the case later on, for example by the investigator or the prosecutor. The police co-operate with other agencies if necessary.

The National Hate Crime Unit publishes an annual report that shows how many of the registered hate crime cases ended up in court. The annual report consists of statistics of all registered hate crime cases in Norway from the last year, along with some analysis of the numbers.

There is no hate crime policy or guidance document for prosecutors and the judiciary. However, the Attorney General publishes an annual circular letter where they announce which types of crime should be given priority by the police and the prosecution authorities in the next year. The guidelines and prioritization circulars of the Public Prosecutor's Office (published since the early 2000s) state that hate crimes should be prioritized regardless of severity. All cases falling within the priorities set by the Public Prosecutor's Office should be given precedence in cases of limited resources. Therefore, it is clear that hate crime cases should be prioritized by all police districts.

Hate crime statistics for different police districts in Norway are regularly published.

Oslo Metropolitan University conducts bi-annual crime victimization surveys, which include questions about hate crime, with the aim of measuring unreported hate crimes. The last published report (for 2020) is available here. The survey shows that hate crimes are largely underreported.

Hate crime victim support

Norway offers both general and specialized support to victims of hate crime.

Services are provided both by state-run institutions and civil society organizations. There is a dedicated hate crime unit in the police, the National Hate Crime Expertise Unit, former Oslo Police District Hate Crime Unit. Every police district in the country has a focal point within this unit, and police actively reach out to vulnerable communities.

The police has integrated victim support centres in all police districts. The centres can be contacted by victims even if a criminal case has not been registered. The police can also refer victims to the centres in connection with recorded criminal cases. The staff in these centres are social workers and provide assistance with counselling as well as with filling out compensation claims. In addition, Oslo Police District has its own "safety programme" to follow up on victims of crimes that occur in public spaces.

The police informs the victim about the investigation and its developments, and sets up direct contact between the victim and a dedicated police officer. There is no established individual needs assessment process. The police, however, uses a technique of investigative interviewing (the so-called "Kreativ" model) that promotes communication, legal protection, ethics, empathy, active listening, and trust through openness. Specialized service providers for victims of hate crime are not integrated into the general victim support scheme in a systematic way. However, there is ongoing co-operation between the police and civil society. If necessary, the police may decide to refer a victim to a specialized civil society support provider.

The police offer special protection measures to vulnerable victims, including victims of hate crime, as part of the "Safety programme". Such special protection measures include maintaining telephone contact, meeting with the victim, and accompanying the victim in public, including at the crime scene. All crime victims can use the counselling services offered by the police.

Hate crime capacity building

In 2021, the Norwegian Police established National Hate Crime Expertise Unit. The Unit is part of the Oslo Police District and is a reinforcement of the Oslo Police District's hate crime unit.

The mandate of the National Hate Crime Expertise Unit is to build the capacities of the police districts in the field through training and guidance and, if necessary, to provide assistance in specific cases.

In 2022, the capacity-building work of the Unit was endorsed by the Chief of Police in all police districts and all police districts established a hate crime focal point.

TheNational Hate Crime Expertise Unit prepared a training for dedicated police officers to later cascade it to their own police districts in line with the training-of-trainers approach. The training focuses on correctly recognizing and recording hate crimes to ensure they are prioritized in line with the Attorney General's annual circular letter. The training also focuses on the impact of hate crimes on the individual, communities and society. The training content emphasizes the importance of follow-up with the victim, and draws on an ODIHR video on "placing victims at the heart of heart of hate crime response", among other materials.

The Oslo Police District's hate crime unit also provides training on hate crime investigation to Romanian police as part of an EEA project implemented from 2020 to 2023.