London’s top prosecutor calls for unity in tackling hate crime

09/10/2015

Ahead of Hate Crime Awareness Week London's top prosecutor, Baljit Ubhey OBE, has laid out her commitment to ensuring justice is achieved for victims of hate crime in the capital and has urged everyone to play their part in stamping out hate crime.

Baljit, who is the Chief Crown Prosecutor for CPS London and the national hate crime champion for the CPS, said: "As Chief Crown Prosecutor for London tackling hate crime is one of my key priorities. Hate crime can have a huge impact on victims, their families and the community - but it is not just victims who can report these types of crime.

"A hate crime is defined as any criminal offence which is perceived, by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by a hostility or prejudice.  Anyone can report a hate crime if they witness it.

"When a hate crime is committed it is often the words used that show the hostility towards the victim, but if a victim is too scared to come forward or does not understand the meaning of the words then witnesses can be vital to enabling us to prosecute a case as a hate crime, allowing the court to consider a tougher sentence.

"Those who commit hate crimes attack the diversity which makes this city so great. This makes it even more important for everyone who works, lives and visits the city to be vigilant to hate crime. I am committed to ensuring we continue to work with our staff and our external partners to ensure were are supporting victims, listening to communities and delivering justice."

Hate crime can take many forms including hostility towards race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity and disability. However, a victim does not have to be gay to be a victim of homophobic hate crime, it may be that a person shows hostility because they think the victim is gay. Alternatively if a person shouts racist abuse at a victim but they do not understand it because they do not speak English, it can still be prosecuted as a hate crime if a witness hears it, realises that it is racist and reports it.

The Crown Prosecution Service works with the police to put strong cases before the courts and ensure that the courts can give a tougher sentence when there is evidence that a hate crime was committed. The CPS also works with our communities to learn about the impact of hate crimes and how the organisation can improve our service to victims through our Scrutiny and Involvement Panel. But the criminal justice system cannot tackle hate crime alone - all Londoners need to be alert to this type of crime.

CPS prosecutors are given training to deal with these types of cases and the sensitivities they can entail, such as the fear of 'outing' in homophobic hate crime cases. Victims of hate crime can be given special measures to support them in giving evidence in court, such as being screened from the defendant or giving their evidence through an intermediary.


Notes to editors:

  • More information on support for victims and witnesses can be found here.
  • Information about the London Scrutiny and Involvement Panel can be found here.