Joint statement on Hate Crime from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC)
Foreword from Lionel Idan, CPS National Hate Crime Lead, and Mark Hamilton, NPCC Hate Crime Lead
As the respective National Hate Crime Leads for the Crown Prosecution Service and the National Police Chiefs’ Council, we continue to stand united in the commitment of both our organisations to the investigation and prosecution of hate crime, and in the support of victims of such crimes.
Hate crimes not only inflict harm on individuals they have a wider impact on communities and undermine the very fabric of our society. They sow fear, division and mistrust, and cause lasting damage and trauma.
We recognise that strong partnership working between our organisations and with communities, lies at the heart of bringing more offenders of hate crime to justice. We will continue to promote active engagement with all communities, listen and learn from each other, and foster an environment of dialogue in order to build confidence and enhance reporting.
Transparency and engagement remain a cornerstone of our joint commitment, and we recognise the importance of continuing to be open in our investigations and prosecutions, explaining our decisions and in keeping our communities informed and reassured.
In this continuing context, we once again reaffirm the shared commitment of both our organisations to investigate and prosecute hate crime fairly and effectively and to support victims to give their best evidence to enable positive outcomes to be achieved for all individuals and communities who may experience hate crime in the UK.
1) Why does addressing hate crime remain a priority?
Hate crime legislation was agreed by Parliament against a background of rising discrimination and prejudice1. The law reflects parliamentary intent to support victims of hate crime – ordinary people who experience criminal behaviour involving hostility and hatred based on who they are. The law covers hostility on the grounds of disability, race, religion, sexual orientation and being transgender.
Such targeting is unacceptable and Government research demonstrates that victims of hate crime can suffer more serious psychological harm than victims of the same crime with no targeted hostility. No one should need to fear hostility whoever they are, wherever they are. If ‘minor’ hate crime incidents go unchecked, such behaviour can escalate into more frequent and serious patterns of offending.
Our joint efforts to address hate crime are grounded in long-shared values of tolerance, respect and equality. In working to deliver effective responses to hate crime, we aim to provide reassurance and build public confidence that the law is there to protect us all.
2) What common principles continue to inform investigation and prosecution?
The police and the CPS treat hate crime as a priority crime. Following the Report of the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry2, we agreed a common definition of hate crime which places the victims’ perception at the centre of reporting and subsequent investigation:
“Any criminal offence which is perceived by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by hostility or prejudice, based on a person’s disability or perceived disability; race or perceived race; or religion or perceived religion; or sexual orientation or perceived sexual orientation or a person who is transgender or perceived to be transgender.”
We are proactive in the investigation and prosecution of hate crime. The police will investigate the evidence of such hostility where a crime has been reported, or the police believe the offence may have involved hostility towards one or more of the grounds described in law. Where there is sufficient evidence of such hostility, it is more likely that a prosecution will be in the public interest. A successful prosecution will also attract an enhanced or increased sentence from the court. Victims are also entitled to enhanced rights under the Victims’ Code.
There is no ‘hierarchy’ of hate crime. We fundamentally believe that everyone shares a right to live free from hate crime, regardless of the individual characteristics targeted.
We are committed to building public confidence in the criminal justice system and encouraging the reporting of hate crime. We do this through publicising our performance statistics and positive case outcomes, as well as continually working to improve how we investigate and prosecute hate crime. We’re grateful to learn from the communities we serve and value our ongoing engagement with them through local Independent Advisory Groups, Scrutiny and Inclusion Panels, the Hate Crime External Consultative Group and community conversations.
In supporting this statement, we will:
- Continue to work collaboratively and in strong partnership as two independent Services in the interests of justice for victims;
- Endeavour to identify crimes involving hostility on the basis of the monitored strands of hate crime as early as possible;
- Investigate thoroughly and sensitively the nature of the offending;
- Ensure that risk assessments provide early identification of victim needs including requirements to consider special measures applications and reasonable adjustments;
- Build strong cases with the police that satisfy the tests within the Code for Crown Prosecutors from first referral.
- Engage and communicate effectively with victims of hate crime.
- Make effective representations concerning sentencing uplifts under s.66 Sentencing Act 2020 where there is evidence of hostility toward one or more of the five strands;
- Support victims and witnesses to give their best evidence;
- Work closely with others including academics to continuously refresh our understanding of hate crime and to improve our response to it; and
- Continue to monitor the progress of this statement.