Update from Local Scrutiny Involvement Panel – April 2017

What was discussed?

The Panel were given an update on the work being done on a national campaign by the CPS to raise awareness of hate crime. The focus of the campaign was explained to the panel, which will include disability hate crime and sentencing uplifts. These increase the sentence for any offence where a defendant showed hostility or an offence is shown to have been motivated by hostility based on age, disability, homophobia and transphobia or racist and/or religious grounds.

CPS South East will be fully involved in this campaign, particularly with regards to disability hate crime, which we are focusing on as an Area. The Panel heard how it had been identified that, across the area, there is a lower rate of disability hate crime than other types of hate crime. Partner organisations on the Panel explained some of the work they are doing around this.

The Panel then looked at the Area’s recent performance and, in particular, the rape conviction rate, where there is an improving trend. The rape caseload is high, particularly in Surrey and Sussex. They heard that the domestic abuse conviction rate had also improved, as had sentencing uplifts for hate crimes. However, there is still more work to do here and contact will be made with the best performing CPS Area for this measure to see what we can learn from them.

Case studies

The meeting next looked at three actual cases to see what lessons could be learnt from them and what good practice could be shared. All three were disability hate crimes.

The first was an attempted robbery, where abusive language was shouted at the victim. However, no sentence uplift was requested at court and the Panel discussed the reasons for this, which included the defendant being unaware of the victim’s actual disability and the remorse they showed for their comments.

The second case was a series of incidents in a bar, which led to a number of charges, including assault and harassment. The Panel agreed was not a disability hate crime, as the assault was nothing to do with disability. The Panel discussed what further measures could have been taken to help the victim attend court to give evidence.

The final case was where a vulnerable victim with mental health issues was defrauded of a large sum of money. The Panel agreed this was a disability hate crime, as the defendant took advantage of the victim’s disability and felt it should have been convicted as such. However, the Judge decided this was not a disability hate crime and therefore no sentencing uplift was given.

Our next meeting

The next Local Scrutiny Involvement Panel meeting will take place in July 2017. 

The CPS members of the panel who attended were Lisa Ramsarran, Senior District Crown Prosecutor  and Chair of the LSIP, Cheryl Pendry, Area Communications Manager and Jill Hills, Area Performance Manager.