The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) is now prosecuting a record number of hate crimes. In the past year, the CPS has prosecuted 15,442 hate crimes, representing a 4.8% rise on the previous year (2014-2015), which also saw a 4.7% increase from the year before that (2013-2014).
The CPS’ eighth Hate Crime Report details a 41% increase in disability hate crime prosecutions when compared to 2014-2015. In addition, there has been the highest proportion of sentence uplifts in racially and religiously aggravated crime cases (which comprise 84% of all hate crime prosecutions).
Alison Saunders, the director of public prosecutions, stated: “My message is that a hate crime is exactly that. It’s a crime and will not be ignored. Hate crime creates fear and has a devastating impact on individuals and communities. Nobody should have to go about their day-to-day life in fear of being attacked.”
According to Saunders, this new report shows that more of these incidents are being recognised as hate crimes, so they’re reported, investigated and prosecuted as such. “It’s important that this trend continues. No-one should simply think that this form of abuse, conducted either on or offline, will be dismissed or ignored. More than four-in-five prosecuted hate crimes result in a conviction. That’s good news for victims. Over 73% are guilty pleas. This means that more defendants are pleading guilty due to the strength of the evidence and prosecution case, so victims don’t have to go through the arduous process of a trial.”
In conclusion, Saunders explained: “The CPS has undertaken considerable steps to improve our prosecution of hate crime, and we will absolutely continue this improvement.”
Commitment to public consultation
The CPS also announced a commitment to consult publicly in relation to revised policy statements on all strands of hate crime (racially and religiously motivated, homophobic and transphobic and disability hate crime) which will reflect the organisation’s approach to the prosecution of these crimes. Following this, CPS legal guidance for each strand will also be updated to reflect the developments.
In addition, further engagement will take place with community partners and stakeholders in the form of Local Scrutiny and Involvement Panels as well as National Scrutiny Panels. The CPS will also liaise closely with the College of Policing and the National Police Chiefs’ Council to ensure that these commitments are delivered.
Solicitor General Robert Buckland observed: “Tackling hate crime has always been a priority for the Government. We’ve worked extensively to improve our collective response to this issue, and in particular to improve upon the recording of hate crime so that we now have a fuller picture of the scale of the problem.”
The CPS’ report notes that the conviction rate across all strands of hate crime was 83.2% in 2015-2016 and 82.9% in 2014-2015. The proportion of successfully completed prosecutions with an announced and recorded sentence uplift was 11.8% in 2014-2015. That’s an increase from 4.1% the previous year. In 2015-2016, recorded sentence uplifts reached 33.8%.
The number of hate crime cases referred by the police service to the CPS for decisions in 2014-2015 was 14,376. This is an increase of 2.2% on the previous year’s figure. In 2015-2016, the number of referrals decreased by 9.6% to 12,997. In 2014-2015, the number of completed prosecutions increased nationally by 4.7% on the previous year. Again, in 2015-2016 the percentage increase was 4.8%.