Want to make a difference? Your local hate crime scrutiny panel needs you!

17/09/2010

You see and hear stories about the Criminal Justice System every day. Do you think the concerns of your community, faith group, gender or sexual orientation are not taken into consideration, or properly reflected? Do you want to make a difference? If so, why not join your local hate crime scrutiny panel?

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) in the Thames Valley Area is seeking new members for its Hate Crime Scrutiny Panel (HCSP), to be involved in scrutinising hate crime cases.  The aim of the panel is to improve the performance of the CPS in its handling of homophobic, racist, religious, disability and transphobic hate crime, as well as crimes against older people. By critically examining past hate crime prosecutions, panel members support the development of best practice to see if anything about them could have been done better, leading to positive change in the conduct of future cases. Opening up hate crime cases to the scrutiny process enables the CPS to be transparent and accountable to local communities.

The panel is made up of local people with experience of supporting hate crime victims, and although the panel is intended to focus on the work of the CPS, other aspects of the criminal justice system might also come under the spotlight.

The CPS is particularly interested in hearing from people who represent groups within the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual community and who have worked directly or indirectly in supporting victims of homophobic or transphobic hate crime, as well as groups who are under-represented. Panel members need to have an interest in improving public service, by acting as a 'critical friend' to the CPS and be prepared to challenge in a constructive way. Detailed knowledge of the criminal justice system is not essential, as training is provided.

Chief Crown Prosecutor for Thames Valley, Baljit Ubhey OBE, said: 'Opening up your work to the public and asking them to scrutinise it is never easy. It's even harder to do when your work involves making important decisions about acutely sensitive issues such as prosecuting hate crimes. This is what the CPS Thames Valley Hate Crime Scrutiny Panel has been doing since March 2008 and I am immensely proud of its achievements to date.

'Having attended many of the panel meetings so far, I appreciate that the success of the panel relies heavily on the commitment and hard work of its members. Making sense of complicated files filled with legal jargon and unfamiliar forms can be intimidating and laborious. However, I believe it is a valuable way of helping the public to understand how we make our decisions and gaining a new perspective on how we can do it better.

'I am personally very committed to strengthening relationships between the CPS and our local communities as a way of improving public confidence in the criminal justice system. I see the future development of the Hate Crime Scrutiny Panel as a vital part of this process and look forward to building on its success. In order to do this, we are seeking to increase the panel membership and are inviting applications from people across Thames Valley, who meet the criteria.'

If you are interested in being considered as a member of the Thames Valley HCSP, please contact Inder Kaur-Singh, CPS Thames and Chiltern Equality, Diversity and Community Engagement Manager, at Inderpal.kaur-singh@cps.gsi.gov.uk or on 0118 908 2509, for more details and an application pack.