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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

Find out more about how we prosecute hate crime

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Successful prosecutions for hate crimes up - CPS report

11/12/2008

Successful prosecutions for hate crimes have increased over the last few years, according to a new report from the Crown Prosecution Service.

Keir Starmer QC, Director of Public Prosecutions, said: "The CPS can be rightly proud of its record on prosecuting crimes that are motivated by hostility towards people based on their ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation or disability.

"Equally, we have made good progress in addressing the scourge of domestic violence. There is greater detail about this in a separate CPS report, also published today, about Violence against Women.

"But there is still more that the CPS, and the criminal justice system as a whole, needs to do, particularly when it comes to supporting victims and witnesses through the process of a court case and helping them to give the best evidence they can. We are working hard to ensure that that support is there when it is needed.

"The Annual Hate Crime Report will give us and the public that we serve an overview of how we are continually developing our ability to prosecute these crimes."

The Attorney General, Baroness Scotland, said: "Pernicious crimes of this nature are damaging to the very fabric of our society. They often leave the victims feeling helpless and isolated and that they are somehow to blame for the harm that has been inflicted upon them.

"I welcome the findings of this report as it acknowledges that there has been a real improvement in how hate crimes are being identified and addressed by the CPS.  It also demonstrates that the victims' voices are being heard, and that we are working hard to ensure that the perpetrators are brought to justice.

"A number of measures have already been put in place to deal with these crimes; and I am confident that we will be able to build upon our experiences and the expertise required to promote and protect the needs of vulnerable individuals and communities."

The first annual CPS Hate Crime Report 2007-2008 includes information on racist and religious crime, homophobic and transphobic crime, disability hate crime and domestic violence, bringing the strands together in one report for the first time. This is the first report to give information about disability hate crime. Prior to this report, the CPS issued annual reports on its performance in prosecuting individual strands.

The report says that conviction rates, guilty pleas and successful case outcomes have all increased year on year. These increases were consistent across all hate crime strands for which figures were available for comparison.

In the three years ending in March 2008, over 200,000 defendants were prosecuted for all hate crimes. During this time the conviction rate rose from 62 per cent in 2005-6 to 71 per cent in 2007-8 and guilty pleas increased from 59 per cent to 63 per cent.

Ends

  1. The 'Violence Against Women Crime Report' is also published today by the Crown Prosecution Service
  2. For further information please contact the CPS Press Office, 020 7796 8127. Out of hours pager: 07699 781926

Hate crime - overall key findings

  • In the three years ending March 2008, over 200,000 defendants were prosecuted for hate crimes.
  • During this period, the conviction rate rose from 62% in 2005-6 to 71% in 2007-08.
  • Guilty pleas increased from 59% to 63%.
  • The target to reduce unsuccessful outcomes to 28% by the fourth quarter of the year was exceeded at 27.6%.
  • The proportion of cases failing due to issues such as victim retraction, and cases where the victims fails to attend a court hearing remained stable at 55% of all unsuccessful outcomes. However while victim issues are particularly relevant to domestic violence cases, other reasons for failure such as acquittals after trial are more common for other hate crime strands.
  • The vast majority of hate crime defendants across the strands were men.
  • While the data on victim demographics is less reliable and still under development, there are significant differences in gender across the strands. In domestic violence cases, victims are overwhelmingly women (86%), whereas women were victims in 38-48% of cases in other hate crime strands.
  • Offences against the person were the most commonly prosecuted offences in domestic violence (around 72%). Offences in racist and religious and homophobic cases were split between offences against the person and public order offences. Disability incident cases also involved more offences against the person as well as thefts and handling offences.
  • In 78% of hate crime defendants were identified as belonging to the White British Category, and 81% were categorized as White.

Racist and religious crime - key findings

  • In the three years ending March 2008, over 33,000 defendants were prosecuted for crimes involving racial or religious aggravation.
  • Convictions rose from 74% in 2005-6 to 80% in 2007-08.
  • Guilty pleas increased from 64% to just under 67%.
  • In the final quarter of 2007-08, the CPS target to reduce unsuccessful prosecutions to 20% was exceeded at 19.7%.
  • In 2007-08, the most common reasons for unsuccessful outcomes included acquittals and essential legal element missing. However there was an increase in cases failing due to victim retraction, non attendance at court, and those cases where the evidence of victims did not support the case.
  • In 2007-08, the majority of defendants were men at 85%.
  • In 2007-08, offences against the person and public order offences were the most common (84%).
  • In 2007-08 76% of racially and religiously aggravated crime defendants were identified as belonging to the White British category.

Homophobic and transphobic crime - key findings

  • In the three years ending in March 2008, over 2,400 defendants were prosecuted for homophobic or transphobic crimes.
  • In this period, convictions rose from 71% to 78% in 2007-08.
  • Guilty pleas increased from 58% to 67%.
  • The 2007-08 target was to reduce unsuccessful outcomes to 20%. Outcomes were outside the target at 22.6% by the fourth quarter.
  • Acquittals and essential legal element missing accounted for the majority of unsuccessful outcomes
  • While the number of unsuccessful outcomes due to victim difficulties increased from 06-07 to 07-08, they fell slightly in proportional terms, from 5% to less than 4%.
  • The majority of defendants were men (87%).
  • Offences against the person were the most common offences.
  • In 2007-08 76% of defendants were identified as belonging to the White British category.

Disability hate crime - key findings

  • 2007-08 is the first year that performance information on disability incidents has been captured.
  • In the year ending March 2008, 183 defendants were prosecuted for disability incidents.
  • In 2007-08, 77% of cases resulted in a conviction.
  • In 2007-08, the guilty plea rate was 72%.
  • Acquittals accounted for more unsuccessful outcomes than victim issues, similar to racist and religious incidents and homophobic and transphobic crimes.
  • 82% of defendants prosecuted were men.
  • Offences against the person were the most common offences. Burglary, theft and handling were also common.
  • In 2007-08, 83% of defendants were identified as belonging to the White British category.

Domestic violence - key findings

  1. The Crown Prosecution Service is the independent authority responsible for prosecuting criminal cases investigated by the police in England and Wales. It is responsible for:
    1. Advising the police and reviewing the evidence on cases for possible prosecution
    2. Deciding the charge where the decision is to prosecute
    3. Preparing cases for court
    4. Presenting cases at court
  2. The CPS consists of 42 Areas in total, 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 85.1% in 2007-2008. Further information can be found on the CPS website.
  3. The CPS, together with ACPO and media representatives, has 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.