The endless vilification is encouraging a generation of young people to stereotype older people, with serious consequences

Hate crimes have more than doubled in the past five years, new figures showed earlier this week – no surprise there. But if you search the list for the motivating factor recorded in these crimes, there is one notable omission: age. According to the Crown Prosecution Service, there is no such thing as age-related hate crime. Facebook's definition of hate speech is longer – you are not allowed to attack people because of their race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, caste, sex, gender, gender identity or serious disease or disability. Age? Absent again.

So this week's announcement that the Law Commission is examining whether age should be added to hate crime legislation is timely and welcome. It is evident that open expressions of hostility to older people have become more common since the EU referendum – the “old people screwing millennials” trope. Indeed, the idea that how you voted was determined chiefly by your age has been repeated so often that it has acquired the patina of truth. But it is based on a fundamental misreading of the data.

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