Help available for homophobic, biphobic or transphobic hate crime victims in Kent, Surrey and Sussex

24/08/2017

If you are the victim of crime in Kent, Surrey or Sussex, the prospect of a day in court can be a daunting one.

This can be especially true if you are the victim of a homophobic, biphobic or transphobic hate crime, where there are understandable concerns over ‘outing’ or being re-victimised.

These concerns can all contribute to victims choosing not to report these hate crimes, dropping their allegations or choosing not to turn up to court, as some feel that abuse is ‘normal’.

Over two thirds of homophobic, biphobic and transphobic hate crimes in Kent, Surrey and Sussex result in a guilty plea which means the majority of victims and witnesses do not have to go to court.

For those who do, the CPS has a range of options available to remove some of the barriers to justice that LGBT victims and witnesses may face.

Jaswant Narwal from the CPS said: "We know that sadly homophobic, biphobic and transphobic abuse is still a reality for many LGBT people in Kent, Surrey and Sussex and that is completely unacceptable in today's society. This kind of abuse is not 'normal' in any way, but to tackle it, we need people to report it as the crime that it is.

"To do that, the LGBT community needs to feel confident that they can come forward, knowing the CPS will do everything we can to support them and I want to give them that assurance.

"Our prosecutors receive training on the forms of hostility experienced by LGBT people and there are ways we can support victims to overcome the barriers and fears they may have about giving evidence."

To support you, the CPS can apply for special measures such as screens in the courtroom. These block a victim or witness from being seen by anyone but the judge or jury, leaving them to focus on giving their best evidence without intimidation.

In certain circumstances where a victim or witness is identified as vulnerable or intimidated, some evidence can be videoed before the trial and then shown to jurors.

The CPS can also apply for reporting restrictions in exceptional circumstances which can ban any public reporting by the media of the identity of a victim or witness.

If in doubt, you can use reporting groups - including Stonewall and Galop - who help victims report crimes to police.

In addition, the CPS also has the power to ask the judge to ‘uplift’ the sentence of a person who has committed a hate crime -meaning the attacker or abuser could see themselves with a stiffer sentence as a result of their prejudice against the victim.

Ian Cole is an outreach worker and a member of the CPS South East Local Scrutiny Involvement Panel. He said: "As a member of the CPS South East Local Scrutiny Involvement Panel, I can see the changes that have taken place as the CPS engages with the views of the LGBT population around hate crime. They are listening to us, so that the process a victim goes through is improved and focussed on their needs at what can be a very traumatic time.

"Please do not think that it is a waste of time to report a hate crime, the police and the CPS do not see it as a waste of time and are wanting to ensure our safety by prosecuting those guilty of carrying out such crimes. Being a member of the LGBT population does not equate to being the victim of a hate crime, together we can change this, report it."

More details of the CPS South East's work to tackle all forms of hate crime are available on our website, which is updated monthly with the latest successful hate crime convictions.

CPS South East works closely with local community groups and our Local Scrutiny Involvement Panel is made up of community representatives and members of criminal justice agencies, who work together to improve the prosecution process and our service. We are currently looking for members of the public to join the panel, particularly those with a background in representing people affected by issues related to hate crime - disability, racial, religious, homophobic, transphobic and biphobic. If you would be interested, please email SouthEast.Communications@cps.gsi.gov.uk

Ends

Notes to Editors:

Jaswant Narwal is the Chief Crown Prosecutor of CPS South East, which is responsible for prosecuting crime in Kent, Surrey and Sussex.

In 2015/16, the CPS prosecuted:

  • 32 cases of homophobic and transphobic cases in Kent and of these, guilty pleas were received in 25.
  • 13 cases of homophobic and transphobic cases in Surrey and of these, guilty pleas were received in 10.
  • 53 cases of homophobic and transphobic cases in Sussex and of these, guilty pleas were received in 32.