Crown Prosecution Service Wessex records highest Hate Crime conviction rates for 2016-2017

17/10/2017

"It is vitally important that victims of Hate Crime and members of the communities realise how seriously the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) takes this malicious crime.

Not only is our conviction rate for Hate Crime the highest in the country, but we also secured a sentence uplift in 72.5% of successful cases during the same time period. CPS Wessex has led the way in relation to sentence uplifts this year, which means offenders are sentenced to an increased penalty or period of imprisonment, said Nicola Haywood, Deputy Chief Crown Prosecutor for the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) Wessex, following the publication of CPS annual hate crime report.

CPS Wessex conviction rates in relation to Hate Crimes have improved by 3.7%, to 90.1% in 2016-2017, achieving the highest conviction rate in the country.

Conviction rates have improved in all strands of Hate Crime, demonstrating how seriously we take cases where there is hostility based on a person’s race, religion, sexual orientation, disability or transgender identity.     

Ms Haywood said: "Last year saw the roll out of training to all prosecutors on Disability Hate Crime, so we are particularly pleased that the conviction rate has increased by 5.7%, to 86.4% for Disability Hate Crime cases prosecuted in Wessex. We recognise how difficult it can be for victims to come forward and are grateful to those victims who have felt able to report crimes to the police so that we can bring offenders to justice.

"Our Hate Crime Coordinator checks all cases identified as Hate Crime on our monitoring system, reviews each case to ensure that it is dealt with appropriately, and, where applicable, ensures that a sentence uplift is requested from the court. This process, in addition to the training that prosecutors have received has, without any doubt, contributed to improving our conviction rate and our service to victims and witnesses of crime.

James Burnham, Hate Crime Coordinator for CPS Wessex added: "One of the reasons that victims give for not reporting hate incidents to the police is that they don't think that they will be believed by the court and that the offender will get away with it as a result. Our results prove that this is not correct. In the great majority of cases victims are believed by the courts and in many other cases the evidence is so strong that defendants plead guilty. Victims in our area can be confident that we will do our utmost to ensure that the right cases are brought to court and that a just outcome is achieved."

Dr Nathan Hall, from the University of Portsmouth, the independent facilitator for the CPS Wessex Scrutiny and Involvement Panel on Hate Crime said:

“The statistics published today demonstrate the progress the CPS has made in meeting its commitments in relation to Hate Crime. But they also show that much still remains to be done and that there can be no room for complacency.

“As Chair of the Wessex Hate Crime Scrutiny and Involvement Panel on Hate Crime, I am extremely proud of the work undertaken by the CPS in our region, and as a Panel we will continue to work hard to both support and challenge the CPS to further improve its response to Hate Crime in all its forms."

The Wessex Hate Crime Scrutiny and Involvement Panel on Hate Crime continues to be an intrinsic part of CPS Wessex commitment to prosecuting Hate Crimes effectively and robustly.   Panel members, who are volunteers from community groups and key colleagues from our Criminal Justice partner agencies, help prosecutors in CPS Wessex to identify and adopt good practices, learn important lessons through feedback from our Scrutiny Panel meetings and provide a practical insight into the real lived experience of victims who have suffered prejudice or hostility.

Ms Haywood said: "We will continue to imbed good practices and drive forward effective prosecutions of Hate Crime over the course of the next reporting year, and will continue to roll out training to prosecutors. We already have plans to deliver new training packages in relation to sexual orientation and gender identity. 

We encourage anyone who has been a victim of a Hate Crime to come forward and report the incident to the police. CPS Wessex will do all it can to ensure that victims are supported, have the opportunity to have a Victim Personal Statement read at court in appropriate cases, and will bring offenders to justice."