Update from August 2015 meeting

What was discussed?

We examined the unsuccessful hate crime cases which were finalised in June and also considered our performance on domestic violence and hate crime. 

The panel scrutinised the work we have done on raising the profile of disability hate crime to our staff and they were very pleased with what we have achieved to date.  We informed the panel about the quarterly Hate Crime meeting being held by senior managers.

There was a discussion around the domestic violence caseload and how such cases are listed in the courts in each county in the South East, as this differs. The meeting was very concerned about the quality of retraction statements taken from victims. These are key to giving prosecutors a full understanding of why a victim no longer wants to proceed with a case, as domestic violence cases can continue even when victims retract their statements.

The CPS members of the panel will be linking with local Independent Domestic Violence Advisors (IDVAs) to get information about the quality of communication between the CPS, the three police forces in the South East and the IDVAs.

Case studies

The meeting then looked at three actual cases to see what lessons could be learnt from them and what good practice could be shared. The case studies included disability hate crime, a domestic abuse case which involved the use of homophobic language and a homophobic hate crime.

There was a lively discussion about what is considered a disability hate crime under the current definitions. With the case study examined by the panel, although it had been flagged as a disability hate crime, the panel felt the case was not driven by hatred, but was a case of someone trying to take advantage of a disabled victim.

The panel were disappointed that sentencing uplifts were not being used as effectively as possible. A sentencing uplift increases the sentence for any offence where a defendant showed hostility, based on the victims actual or presumed disability or where the offence is shown to have been motivated by hostility towards people who have a disability. In court prosecutors will be reminded about the importance of this and the CPS will also be speaking to the courts to ensure they are expecting prosecutors to ask for these uplifts in hate crime cases.

Our next meeting

The next LSIP meeting is due to take place in October 2015.

The CPS members of the panel who attended were Portia Ragnauth, Deputy Chief Crown Prosecutor, who chairs the panel, Anne Phillips, Acting Head of the Magistrates Court Advocacy Team in Surrey and Sussex and Senior Crown Prosecutor Chris Bull.