CPS Wessex prosecutes successfully more hate crimes for the year 2010-11

14/02/2012

All crimes are unacceptable but offences that are driven by hostility or hatred based on personal characteristics set a particular challenge to a civilised society. For the CPS therefore, effectively addressing all forms of hate crimes and crimes targeting older people remain a core commitment.

"Hate crime is a nasty, hurtful crime that can destroy the lives of our victims, witnesses and also those of their families and friends', said Nick Hawkins, Chief Crown Prosecutor (CCP) of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) in Wessex, following today's publication of the 2010-11 CPS Hate Crime Report. Following the publication of the report, Mr Hawkins said: "For the year 2010-11 we have prosecuted more hate crimes in our Area and our volume of convictions is increasing.

"We can also say that after looking at early readings of our 2011-12 hate crime figures, we are seeing again more cases being successfully prosecuted.

"This is very positive. We work and engage tirelessly with our local criminal justice partners, the voluntary sector and our communities to ensure that we are bringing strong cases to court.

"We also make sure that we act effectively upon concerns raised by our communities represented in our Scrutiny and Involvement panels.

"Consulting and discussing finalised cases with them is essential to improve the quality of our work, with the police and different agencies.

"For instance, we have realised during our panel meetings how difficult it is for someone who has been the victim of hate abuses by their neighbours to report the crime and to go through court proceedings.

"In some cases, we saw victims receiving further abuse from their neighbours because they had reported the crime to the police and that they would be giving evidence at a trial. This is an additional stress and explains in some cases why victims decide to withdraw their evidence.

"This is why we need to continue to work closely with our criminal justice (CJS) partners and our panel members who, thanks to their position in the communities, are able to feedback these situations to local authorities or housing association for instance."

 The 2010-11 report clearly shows an increase of the volume of convictions and reporting for hate crimes in Wessex.

 

Mr Hawkins said: "Since 2007-08, which was the first time that our report included data on Disability Hate Crimes, we have seen nationally an increase in the number of these cases referred to CPS by the police. However, the 2010-11 report shows a decrease in our Area.

 

"This is worrying and again reflects a concern that we share with the voluntary sector and the police.

 

"I do not believe that there are so few Disability Hate Crime Cases in our Area.

 

"We know that we need to continue raising awareness to make sure that these crimes are reported, identified and that we and the police build strong cases to court.

 

"We cannot do this in isolation and the help of our CJS partners and our communities is crucial. 

 

"We hope that this report shows to our communities that the CPS takes very seriously any types of hate crime and we urge anyone who has been a victim to report this crime to the police."

 What our communities say:

 Dorchester Town Council Councillor, Molly Rennie, panel member of the Wessex Scrutiny and Involvement Panel in Dorset said:

"As a member of a Hate Crime Panel I have been pleasantly surprised at the willingness to take on board the thoughts and ideas of the Panel members [who after all have no legal training] and to understand the experiences they bring with them and so together we can help to achieve positive experiences and outcomes both for the victims and the CPS.

There is evidence that older people are finding it easier to report what they feel is prejudicial crimes to the Police and know they can expect a positive response from all concerned.  This is partly due to the work of the multiagency panel work and the wide reporting of this and the court process to all areas of the community.'

 

Portsmouth University Lecturer, Professor Chris Lewis, independent facilitator of the Wessex Scrutiny and Involvement Panel in Hampshire and Isle of Wight said:

"2010-2011 has been another successful year in prosecuting Hate Crime and for our panel. Around 80% of CPS prosecutions resulted in convictions. Our panel of community volunteers looked at around 30 homophobic, racist & religious or disability aggravated cases, recommended improvements to CPS procedures and highlighted good practice.

However, we still find unsuccessful cases continue to happen, mainly because of the concern of victims when they are asked to give evidence in court. We urge all those who are victims of Hate Crime to report this to the Police, to give evidence against their offenders in court and to discuss the success of local Hate Crime prosecutions within their communities.'

 

Wiltshire-Victim Support Volunteer, Francis Wakem, independent facilitator for CPS Wessex Scrutiny and Involvement Panel in Wiltshire said:

"As independent facilitator of the Panel and having an association with other voluntary organisations in the community has enabled me to provide feedback to the CPS to assist in raising individual and area performance in the handling of these abhorrent crimes and also to highlight the fact that the criminal justice system is but one possible intervention.

 In addition, the panel has helped to raise community understanding of how CPS decisions are made and in providing an element of community focused views in terms of public confidence not only of the CPS but also the wider criminal justice system.'

 

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