CPS aiming to support victims and witnesses
If you are the victim of crime, the prospect of a day in court can be a daunting one.
This can be especially true if you are the victim of a homophobic, biphobic or transphobic hate crime, where there are concerns over 'outing' or being re-victimised.
These concerns can all contribute to victims choosing not to report these hate crimes, dropping their allegations or choosing not to turn up to court, some consider that abuse is 'normal'.
Almost 75% of homophobic, biphobic and transphobic hate crimes result in a guilty plea which means the majority of victims and witnesses do not have to go to court.
For those who do, the CPS has a range of options available to remove some of the barriers to justice that LGBT victims and witnesses may face.
To support you the CPS can apply for special measures such as screens in the courtroom. These block a victim or witness from being seen by anyone but the judge or jury, leaving them to focus on giving their best evidence without intimidation.
In certain circumstances where a victim or witness is identified as vulnerable or intimidated some evidence can be videoed before the trial and then shown to jurors.
The CPS can also apply for reporting restrictions in exceptional circumstances which can ban any public reporting by the media of the identity of a victim or witness.
In addition, the CPS also has the power to ask the judge to 'uplift' the sentence of a person who has committed a hate crime - meaning the attacker or abuser could see themselves with a stiffer sentence as a result of their prejudice against the victim.
Alison Saunders, the Director of Public Prosecutions, added: "Due the nature of hate crime, victims are often left to feel vulnerable and undermined by the experience they have gone through.
"It is our job as prosecutors to ensure that victims and witnesses are able to give the best evidence they can. We will listen to their concerns and do everything possible to make sure they are comfortable and feel able to give evidence of what happened to them."
Nick Antjoule, hate crime manager for Galop, the LGBT anti-violence charity, said: "Homophobic, biphobic and transphobic abuse are sadly still a reality for many LGBT people. If it happens to you or someone you know, you have a right to report it and get support.
"You are also entitled to a sensitive and professional response through the police and court process.
"The Crown Prosecution Service are a key part of that and they have shown real commitment to getting their response to hate crime right."
- In 2015/2016 the CPS prosecuted 1,439 homophobic and transphobic cases with a conviction rate of 83%.
- This included 85 completed prosecutions over transphobic crimes.
- Our prosecutors receive training on sexual orientation and gender on the forms of hostility experienced by LGBT people, as well as overcoming barriers and fears to reporting. We are launching a new training DVD for our prosecutors later this year with Stonewall and Galop.
- We also look at fears by victims involved in minor offending deterring them from reporting a more serious offence.
- Make sure you mention that you believe the crime was homophobic as soon as you can when you speak to police
- If in doubt, you can use reporting groups - including Stonewall, Galop - who help victims report crimes to police.