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Hate Crime

Hate crime is any criminal offence committed against a person or property that is motivated by hostility towards someone based on their disability, race, religion, gender identity or sexual orientation:

  • race, colour, ethnic origin, nationality or national origins
  • religion
  • gender or gender identity
  • sexual orientation
  • disability
  • age

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CPS publishes policy on prosecuting crimes against older people

15/07/2008

The Director of Public Prosecutions, Sir Ken Macdonald, QC, said the Crown Prosecution Service was making clear to the public that it takes crime against older people seriously as a policy published today sets out how it handles these cases.

Sir Ken said: "Everyone has the right to feel safe and secure and to live free from the fear of crime. We know that feeling and being unsafe have significant negative impacts on older people's health and sense of well-being. Research shows that crimes against older people are prevalent yet they are under-reported to the police.

"Our policy, Prosecuting Crimes Against Older People, makes clear to older people, their families, communities and the general public that they can be confident that the CPS understands the serious implications of crimes against older people.

"The CPS recognises its role in protecting older people's human rights by prosecuting offenders effectively and helping older people give the best possible evidence in court.

"If there is any evidence that there is an aggravating element to an offence based on a victim's age, we will draw it to the attention of the court and this could lead to an increase in sentence."

The policy has been produced through the work of a project group chaired by CPS London's Chief Crown Prosecutor, Dru Sharpling, and involving older people and representatives of key organisations working and researching in the field of age equality and older people's experiences. A consultation exercise earlier this year asked the general public for their views.

Solicitor General, Vera Baird, QC, said: "Crimes committed against older people have historically been ignored by society. We must do everything we can to support and protect those who are at risk of abuse.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has already demonstrated their commitment to diversity and to better protecting the vulnerable. This policy goes one step further and explains exactly how the CPS will apply best practice, protect victims and witnesses and prosecute this abhorrent crime effectively".

The issues addressed in the policy include how the CPS will support older people as victims and witnesses of crime; what special measures - such as screens in court or video links to their home - are available; what happens if the victim withdraws support or no longer wishes to give evidence and continuing a case where that has happened.

The policy also summarises some of the wide and complex range of crimes which older people may experience. These include:

  • abuse or neglect where there is an expectation of trust, whether by family members, friends or paid workers, or where the older person is living either temporarily or permanently in an institution;
  • crimes which are specifically targeted at older people because they are perceived as vulnerable or potentially easy to steal from, such as muggings, doorstep theft or rogue traders;
  • crimes against older people which are not initially related to their age but may later become so if someone exploits the situation on discovering that they are an older person;
  • crimes against older people which are in part or wholly motivated by hostility based on age.

Sir Ken said: "The older population in the United Kingdom is growing. Negative attitudes towards older people exist in our society. Crimes against older people take place against this backdrop of less than positive, and indeed, prejudicial attitudes. We are determined to play our part in challenging this."

  1. The CPS has a number of public policy statements in various areas of hate crime, including public policy statements on Racist and Religious Crimes; Homophobic Crime; Domestic Violence and most recently Disability Hate Crime. The creation of this public policy statement on older people means that CPS now has in place policy statements covering all six 'equality strands'.
  2. The policy for Prosecuting Crimes Against Older People is available on this website in the Publications/Prosecution Policy and Guidance section.
  3. Media enquiries to CPS Press Office on 020 7796 8180.
  4. The Crown Prosecution Service is the Government department responsible for prosecuting criminal cases investigated by the police in England and Wales. We are responsible for:
    • advising the police on cases for possible prosecution;
    • reviewing cases submitted by the police;
    • determining any charges in all but minor cases;
    • preparing cases for court;
    • presenting cases at court.

    The CPS consists of 42 Areas, each headed by a Chief Crown Prosecutor (CCP). A telephone service, CPS Direct, provides out-of-hours advice and decisions to police officers across England and Wales. The CPS employs around 8,400 people and prosecuted 1,091,250 cases with an overall conviction rate of 83.7% in 2006-2007.

    More about the CPS

    Together with ACPO and media representatives, we have developed a protocol for the release of prosecution material to the media. This sets out the type of prosecution material that will normally be released, or considered for release, together with the factors we will take into account when considering requests.

    Publicity and the Criminal Justice System protocol

  1. SHEFFIELD: A support worker who stole more than £16,000 from a deaf pensioner in Sheffield was jailed for two and a half years at Sheffield Crown Court on 8 July 2008. She was also ordered to pay her victim £10,000 within 14 days after admitting eight counts of theft. The victim sat in the well of the court in a wheelchair and heard with the help of a listening device the judge describe the defendant as someone who was "truly base" and whose actions were "a dreadful betrayal of the trust deposed in you".
  2. LINCOLNSHIRE: A carer who stole more than £4,000 from an 88 year old man in Sleaford, Lincolnshire, was jailed for six months in June 2008 after a trial at Lincoln Crown Court. During the sentencing hearing, the judge said she wanted to stress how seriously the courts would deal with people who took advantage of elderly people in their care.
  3. DERBYSHIRE: A paramedic pleaded guilty to theft when he heard his elderly victim was prepared to give evidence via a live television link-up from his home. The groundbreaking initiative - the first of its kind ever set up in Derbyshire - enabled the 76-year-old victim to give evidence against the paramedic who stole cash at his house following a 999 call. He had pleaded not guilty, but as the trial was due to start at Derby Crown Court with his victim on stand-by he changed his plea. Derbyshire CPS applied for a live link to be set up from the court to the victim's home. The paramedic was jailed for nine months in May 2007, to run concurrently to a sentence of 12 months for other thefts.