Hate Crime prosecutions increase and conviction rate remains stable


As the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) publishes its Hate crime and crimes against older people report 2014-2015 and 2015-2016, Thames and Chiltern Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) releases its local figures.

Joanna Coleman, Deputy Chief Crown Prosecutor for Thames and Chiltern CPS and Hate Crime lead said: "We remain committed to prosecuting hate crimes robustly and in accordance with the national CPS approach and policy. Our volume of hate crime prosecutions has increased from 946 in 2014-15 to 1,001 in 2015-16, which we hope shows a better understanding of what a hate crime is and more confidence in victims coming forward. Our conviction rate for the last two years has remained stable at 82.1% which equated to 822 convictions in 2015-16 compared to 777 in 2014-15. These figures do not include the crimes against older people, which are included in the report as stand-alone statistics.

"The figures highlight a lot of the excellent work being done by our prosecutors, who use all available measures to ensure that victims are able to give their best evidence at court. This includes using intermediaries and other special measures applications as appropriate.

"It should be noted that the percentages are subject to greater variation when the numbers are low. Concentrating on percentages only can be misleading and therefore the volumes of prosecutions have also been released in the report.

"Racial and religious crime prosecutions have remained relatively stable with 858 prosecutions and a conviction rate of 83.2% in 2014-15 and 849 prosecutions and a conviction rate of 83.7% in 2015-16.

"In 2015-16 the Area prosecuted 66 cases of disability hate crime, nearly doubling the 34 prosecutions in 2014-15.  This resulted in two out of every three cases resulting in a conviction with a conviction rate of 66.7% in 2015-16 and 67.6% in 2014-15.

"The CPS delivered Disability Hate Crime training to all local prosecutors September to December 2015. This was aimed at increasing the levels of awareness amongst prosecutors about the specific nature of disability hate crime and the best ways to support victims and bring offenders to justice.

"There has been a 59% increase in the number of homophobic and transphobic cases prosecuted; increasing from 54 in 2014-15 to 86 in 2015-16 with the conviction rate increasing too from 74.1% to 77.9%.

"Our improved performance in dealing with homophobic and transphobic hate crimes is particularly encouraging and included the prosecution of four transphobic hate crimes during the course of last year.

"The Area prosecuted 275 cases against older people in 2015-16, compared to 224 the year before, an increase of 23%.  The conviction rate dropped from 88.8% in 2014-15 (199 cases) to 80.7% in 2015-16 (222 cases).

"Our Local Scrutiny Involvement Panel (LSIP) members continue to work with us to improve the quality and consistency of our hate crime casework practice.  Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and Thames Valley Police are all represented on our LSIP and ensure that key issues, learning and actions are taken back to their respective police forces to address the concerns that community representatives raise on our panel.

"We are aware that many hate crimes remain unreported and have been working with the police, the voluntary sector and local authority partners to raise awareness about the routes that are available for local people to report these crimes. This includes CPS Thames and Chiltern playing a role on the Bedfordshire Hate Crime Partnership to increase public confidence with hate crime reporting centres being set up across Bedfordshire to encourage victims to report hate crimes safely.

"We recognise that offences driven by hostility towards people because of their personal identity and characteristics are particularly damaging in any civilised society.  We remain committed to ensuring that the prejudice and discrimination that are at the root of hate crime are dealt with robustly.

"Our continuing work to tackle hate crimes ensures that we remain focused on using all the measures that the law and the legal processes provide to bring offenders to justice. We recognise that we have made considerable progress, but we acknowledge that we need to continue building on the successes that we have achieved.

"We will continue to work with our partners in the Criminal Justice System and community groups to improve the way the police investigate, and we prosecute and support victims and witness of such crimes."

Barney Leith, Independent Joint Chair of the Local Scrutiny Involvement Panel (LSIP) said: "Hate crime of all kinds, whether racial or religious, homophobic or transphobic, against older people, or against people with disabilities is an on-going matter of great concern in our society. The Local Scrutiny and Involvement Panel plays a crucial role in reviewing Area performance data and casework practice, thus holding the CPS to account and helping to ensure effective and consistent handling of cases. In the current political and economic situation and in light of national trends, racially and religiously motivated hate crimes will need to continue to be closely monitored going forward."