#hatecrimematters

East of England Chief Crown Prosecutor supports commitment to tackle racist and religious hate crime

23/08/2017

The Chief Crown Prosecutor in the East of England has backed the Director of Public Prosecutions' commitment to tackling racist and religious hate crime.

The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has been speaking about the need to protect communities who are especially targeted by racist and religious hate crime and it's a sentiment endorsed by Jenny Hopkins, Chief Crown Prosecutor for CPS East of England which serves Cambridgeshire, Essex, Norfolk and Suffolk.

In 2015-2016, CPS East of England recorded a total of 688 prosecutions for hate crimes, including those involving homophobic, transphobic and biphobic hate crime; disability hate crime; and crimes against older people. However, by far the biggest number of cases was for racist and religious hate crimes with a total of 575 prosecutions.

Jenny Hopkins from the CPS said: "The CPS has a critical role to play in ensuring we identify and prosecute these cases appropriately.

"Hate crime is based on prejudice and hostility which has no place in our society. It may be demonstrated by offensive language, criminal damage, serious assaults and sometimes even murder, but perpetrators should be aware that we treat all cases seriously and we will work hard with the police to make sure that justice is done.                    

"Sometimes hate crimes are reported by witnesses, as opposed to victims, so it's vital that anyone who hears racist abuse or sees a repeated pattern of racist behaviour comes forward to report it, so that appropriate action can be taken. It doesn't matter how minor these incidents may appear.

"Everyone needs to report these incidents, so that we can bring the perpetrators to justice and send a strong message that the criminal justice system will not tolerate such behaviour.

"Our conviction rate of 85.7% for hate crime in our Area is a strong one and we are committed to tackling hate crime in our communities. Victims and witnesses can have confidence they will be supported."   
As part of CPS East of England's work to improve the way it deals with hate crime, the Area has a Local Scrutiny and Involvement Panel (LSIP) made up of representatives of diverse communities across the four counties, together with other agencies.

Co-Chair of the Hate Crime LSIP, Linda Bellos said: "The Panel has an important function in helping the CPS and its criminal justice partners to improve the way hate crime cases are dealt with and the services they provide to victims and witnesses.

"It is made up of volunteers who can pass on community concerns about crime and criminal justice to the LSIP. Members then feedback on the actions the agencies will take - or have taken - in response to those concerns. It means communities can have more of a say in what is going on and a better understanding and the CPS can learn from the Panel's feedback."

ENDS

NOTES TO EDITORS

1. Jenny Hopkins is the Chief Crown Prosecutor for CPS East of England

2. Case studies:

  • Cambridgeshire - A postman was racially abused by the defendant who told him to "go back to his own country". This was witnessed by a man working nearby who went to check the postman was all right and the defendant made racist remarks to him about the postman, then tried to punch him. The defendant was charged with racially aggravated threatening behaviour and causing fear or provocation of violence. He was sentenced to an 18 month community order which included an uplift of six months for the racially aggravated element of the offence, requested by the prosecution.
  • Essex - A couple were followed around a supermarket by the defendant who used racist language towards them. Security called the police and the defendant was arrested. The couple did not wish to pursue a prosecution but two independent witnesses who were appalled by the defendant's behaviour made statements. The defendant pleaded guilty to religiously aggravated threatening or disorderly behaviour and was fined £120 which included an uplift of £40 because of the hate crime element, requested by the prosecution.
  • Norfolk - The defendant was the carer for a 92-year-old relative and withdrew the victim's savings over a number of years until it was all gone - estimated at £57,000. The fact the victim was elderly and vulnerable was identified as an aggravating factor. The defendant was sentenced to 12 months' imprisonment.
  • Suffolk - While police officers were giving first aid to an assault victim she became abusive and used racist insults against the police officers. She was charged with racially aggravated threatening behaviour and pleaded guilty at the first hearing. She had 47 previous convictions including for other racially aggravated offences. The prosecutor reminded the court of the need to uplift sentence because of the racial element. She was fined £165, ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £20 and prosecution costs £85. The court said the fine had been uplifted to reflect the racially aggravated element of the offence.

3. The full Hate Crime report is available on the CPS website:
 Hate crime and crimes against older people report 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 (PDF file)