Tougher prison sentences for 'hate crime' perpetrators

22/08/2017

Hundreds of defendants a month are being handed stiffer sentences because they have committed a hate crime motivated by prejudice.

1,814 criminal sentences were 'uplifted' across England and Wales between January and April this year.

Crimes which are eligible for an uplifted sentence are any that are motivated 'wholly or partly' by hostility based on perceived religion, race, sexual orientation or disability.

The increased sentences ranged from extended prison terms to longer community punishments, depending on the crime.

Examples in Yorkshire and Humberside included:

Disability:

When the victim stood up from his wheelchair, the defendant deliberately moved it backwards, causing the victim to fall onto the floor when he tried to sit back down. He pleaded guilty at the first hearing to assault by beating and was sentenced to a six week curfew uplifted from four weeks. He was also ordered to pay £250 compensation (South Yorkshire case.)

Race:

The defendant pushed the victim and grabbed her headscarf. She was convicted after trial of religiously aggravated common assault by beating. She was sentenced to 12 weeks' imprisonment uplifted from eight weeks, suspended for 12 months. A Restraining Order was also imposed (West Yorkshire case.)

Religion:

The defendant religiously abused the victim in the street, spitting and throwing water at her. She pleaded guilty at the first hearing to religiously aggravated intentional harassment, alarm or distress by words or writing and religiously aggravated common assault by beating. She was sentenced to a 12 month Youth Referral Order uplifted from nine months. She was also ordered to pay £120 compensation (North Yorkshire case.)

Homophobic:

The defendant shouted homophobic abuse at her neighbours and caused damaged to their garden as part of an on-going dispute. She pleaded guilty to harassment without violence and criminal damage. She was sentenced to a 12 month Community Order, a 15 day rehabilitation activity requirement and a 40 day curfew uplifted from 30 days. He was also ordered to pay £300 compensation and a two year Restraining Order was imposed (North Yorkshire case.)

Transphobic:

The defendant sent a series of offensive, transphobic and threatening text messages to the victim and threatened to put photos of her on the internet. He pleaded guilty at the first hearing to using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour to cause harassment, alarm or distress. He was sentenced to a £200 fine uplifted from £100 and a five year Restraining Order was imposed. He was also ordered to pay £85 costs and a £30 victim surcharge (Humberside case.)

Gerry Wareham Chief Crown Prosecutor, CPS Yorkshire and Humberside  said: "These longer sentences are a powerful way of sending the message that hate crime is viewed very seriously in the eyes of the law. I would encourage all victims to report hate crimes as we can and do make every effort to ensure that those responsible are held fully accountable."

The CPS has been highlighting hate crime and associated issues this week through our #hatecrimematters campaign. You can find lots of information and a range of materials for use on social media and online here.