Fiyaz Mugal of TellMAMA on building trust through tackling hate crime
Fiyaz Mugal, co-chair of the CPS Community Accountability Forum and founder of TellMAMA, talks about building trust and confidence in communities through tackling hate crime
The CPS has had many notable successes in the world of hate crime prosecutions.
I can say this with confidence, as I was personally targeted for faith-based hate and harassment and have supported many other victims of hate crime. My early experiences of the CPS, and the wider criminal justice system, were not entirely positive - I did not feel that everyone involved fully understood the impact that this type of vile, threatening, unrelenting hate-filled rhetoric has on victims, as well as the wider community.
I am pleased to say that although there is more to do, things have improved considerably.
Year on year, the CPS secures tougher sentences for people convicted of hate crimes. I would like to highlight some of the outcomes of these types of cases.
The CPS presented evidence in court earlier this year that in the mind of National Action’s Jack Renshaw, his desire to kill Rosie Cooper MP would strike a blow to the ‘Jewish-controlled’ state. The CPS evidence meant that Renshaw pleaded guilty to planning to commit a terrorist attack. His modus operandi was to use a sword and if successful, strike fear into Members of Parliament, many of whom are still recovering from the brutal murder of Jo Cox, PC Keith Palmer and the attack on Westminster. Renshaw was a serious threat and the CPS made the case with clarity. What is also important to note is that the CPS was able to piece together his motivations and the ideological rhetoric that was the driving motivation behind his actions.
Another case led to the conviction of a man whose actions led to fear and trepidation within Muslim communities. Last month, the court ruled that David Parnham was suffering from a mental disorder and should be detained in hospital. If and when Parnham is deemed to no longer require medical treatment, he will be moved to a prison. This means that he will either be receiving treatment at an appropriate mental health facility or be in prison for the next twelve-and-a-half years, for his campaign of fear and hatred. Known to be a fan of the racist mass murderer, Dylann Roof, Parnham had written letters stating that he would donate £100 to charity for every member of a racial or religious minority that was murdered. Parnham was also behind the ‘Punish a Muslim’ day letters that caused much distress within Muslim communities. In July 2016, he also sent threatening and intimidating letters to mosques and white powder - intended to appear a harmful substance to the receivers of the letters - to Muslim individuals and parliamentarians. Parnham’s successful prosecution means that one of the most prolific hate-promoters I have heard of is now off the streets.
Then take the case of Jay Davison, who was found guilty of a hate crime for posting violent messages about Muslims alongside photos of himself posing topless with a fake shotgun. The violent picture was posted to 394 Instagram followers and then shared on a WhatsApp group. A concerned member of the WhatsApp group called police to report the material. Davison received a total prison sentence of four years on 23 September. It is my view that the collective action of the police and the CPS has sent a strong signal to members of the public that such actions will not be tolerated.
Today, the CPS is in a far stronger position to understand the motivations and rhetoric behind hateful and extremist actions. This is a result of training and awareness-raising informed by the very communities affected by these sorts of crimes, and a stronger assurance process. This is to be warmly welcomed. In my view, the CPS has some of the best prosecutors in the world, and now it also has some of the most informed prosecutors when it comes to hate groups and their ideologies. In the current climate, this is the best reassurance for members of the public.