National frameworks to address hate crime in Poland
This page provides information on the national frameworks to address hate crime in Poland. The information provided here should be viewed alongside data presented on Poland's hate crime report page.
Hate crime recording and data collection
Several public bodies are involved in monitoring and/or collecting data on hate crimes. The main actors in this field are the police and the Prosecutor's Office. Each has a separate recording system and methodology for this task. Since 2015, the police and the Ministry of the Interior and Administration have jointly developed and shared a hate crime data collection system.
All offences committed against people because of their racial, national, ethnic or religious background are classified as hate crimes. While there are no general guidelines on hate crime recording, police officers are required to establish whether the perpetrator was acting out of bias motivation. Bias indicators such as behaviour and statements during the act, circumstances of the crime and characteristics and circumstances connected with the victim are used to determine the motive.
Hate crimes are flagged on the incident form and in the police force's electronic database. Special co-ordinators at both the central (the National Hate Crime Co-ordinator in the Criminal Bureau of the General Police Headquarters) and local levels (police headquarters in every Voivodeship and the Metropolitan Police Headquarters) are responsible for preventing and investigating hate crimes, as well as for compiling data from their district and reporting them each month in the Electronic Investigation Activities Register (Elektroniczny Rejestr Czynności Śledczych, ERCDŚ). The Register contains information about the bias motivation behind the registered cases. Data on crimes, including hate crimes, are also recorded in the National Police Information System (Krajowy System Informacyjny Policji, KSIP), which contains information about crimes listed in the Criminal Code; however, providing information on the bias motivation of such crimes is optional. Monthly reports are forwarded to the Ministry of the Interior and Administration. The same structure is also used to monitor hate speech incidents, which are crimes under the Polish Penal Code. However, these can be separated in the reporting. Data from the police are available on request.
Prosecutors record hate crimes when bias motivations are identified in the proceedings or are implicit in the crime. Guidelines on conducting proceedings for hate crimes cases, issued by the prosecutor general in 2014, unify practices for the prosecution and reporting of hate crimes. Every prosecuted hate crime should be reported to a superior Prosecutor's Office. The cases are also monitored by the Department of Preparatory Proceedings of the National Public Prosecutor's Office, which issues a report on all cases to the Prosecutor General and provides recommendations to subordinate Prosecutor's Offices.
The Division of Statistical Management Information in the Department of Strategy and European Funds of the Ministry of Justice is responsible for organizing, co-ordinating, supervising and preparing statistical reports, including information on hate crimes. The data are obtained from two sources: statistical reports prepared by courts in quarterly, semi-annual and annual cycles, and the electronic database of the National Criminal Register. In this way, information on persons convicted of hate crimes at first instance before common courts is obtained. The data are published online.
Victimization surveys – typically used to measure unreported hate crimes – are not conducted in Poland.
Hate crime victim support
Victim support is offered to victims of hate crime as part of the general victim support system in Poland. No distinction is made between the victims of hate crime and other crime victims.
The rights of crime victims are governed by the following legal acts:
- Act of 6 June 1997 Code of Criminal Procedure (consolidated text, Journal of Laws of 2022, item 1138, with later amendments);
- Act of 6 June 1997 of the Criminal Code of Enforcement (consolidated text, Journal of Laws of 2023, item 127, with later amendments); and
- Act of 28 November 2014 on protection and assistance to victims and witnesses (Journal of Laws of 2015, item 21).
Support for crime victims is generally provided by the police, medical facilities and civil society organizations (CSOs) that have received a subsidy for this purpose from the Justice Fund (Victims and Post-Penitentiary Assistance Fund), run by the Ministry of Justice. These CSO providers are members of a network of victim support centres, but not all specialize in supporting hate crime victims. There is a Victim Assistance Line, reachable via phone, email, chat box, and video call, which is used for admitting victims to Justice Fund centres. However, helpline staff do not receive hate crime training.
The specialized services for hate crime victims provided by CSOs are not integrated into the general system and do not follow unified quality standards. There are a few publicly funded facilities providing help to particular hate crime victims (for example, LGBTI shelters financed by some municipalities), and limited state funding is available to some support providers. Consequently, CSO support providers often depend on volunteers.
In all regional and metropolitan police headquarters, co-ordinators have been appointed to monitor and combat crimes based on xenophobic, racist and other prejudicial grounds. Similarly, there is a network of police representatives responsible for protecting human rights, whose duties include ensuring proper attitudes among law enforcement towards crime victims. Each regional headquarters also has a network of co-ordinators tackling online hate. Issues related to supporting all victims of crime, including hate crimes, are covered in courses run by police schools and as part of professional development activities held in police units. Training courses on hate crime are regularly delivered at the National School of the Judiciary and the Prosecutor's Office.
Police are required to follow a mandatory individual needs assessment procedure. The procedure includes a standard, non-mandatory questionnaire for law enforcement, and a separate question for CSOs. However, the questionnaire used by the police does not address the bias motivation behind the crime, while the questionnaire for CSOs does not include all possible protected characteristics. Current legal regulations do not require police to refer victims to specialized support providers. As part of criminal proceedings, the victim is entitled to receive information about their rights and available assistance, but does not always receive comprehensive information about particular support providers.
In line with the Code of Criminal Procedure, victims enjoy a number of procedural rights. Hate crime victims may benefit from the protection measures offered to particularly vulnerable persons. These include the right to appoint a representative, and to appoint an attorney as a non-party to the proceedings. Victims may also be granted a legal representative ex officio and an interpreter or translator during their interview. Victims cannot, however, use this service when others are interviewed, or submit further motions or read evidence with the help of interpreters. Victims may be accompanied by a person of their choice during pre-trial proceedings, including a relative, a representative of an institution or a CSO supporting victims of crime; however, there is no legal obligation to inform the victim of this possibility.
Special protection measures and assistance during the trial, including relocation to a safe place, can also be granted to the victim. Medical, psychological, rehabilitation, legal and material assistance can be offered as part of the Victim Support and Post-Penitentiary Assistance Fund. However, these forms of assistance are not obligatory in Poland and do not relate directly to the victims of hate crime. Furthermore, victims need to fulfil additional criteria to obtain protection measures and, in case protection is not granted, the victim cannot appeal. Every victim, including hate crime victims, has the right to act before the court as a subsidiary prosecutor.
Hate crime capacity building
Poland has implemented ODIHR's Training Against Hate Crime for Law Enforcement (TAHCLE) programme since 2012. Training sessions are organized for cadets.
In addition, workshops for police officers on combating crimes committed for racist and xenophobic reasons are held, and focus on the legal aspects of combating bias-based crimes, including offences committed via the internet.
Working meetings with police co-ordinators on hate crimes are held on regular basis.