News from CPS London South - May 2023
Introduction by Lionel Idan, Chief Crown Prosecutor for London South and National Lead for Hate Crime
Welcome to this edition of our monthly newsletter. As part of a focused piece on hate crime this month, you can read about the recent two-day hate crime conference we held which had representatives from key organisations such as the Sophie Lancaster foundation, CST, Tell Mama, ‘Hope Not Hate’, RAKKHA and Dimensions UK.
April 22nd this year marked 30years since the murder of Stephen Lawrence on the streets of South London. You can read about a conversation I hosted with Stephen’s father, Dr Neville Lawrence OBE, as well as a joint op-ed we wrote about the legacy of Stephen.
This edition of our newsletter also features highlights of two recent national Hate Crime meetings I held where the focus was on transphobic hate crime, with guest speakers Sophie Cook and Eva Echo. We also have a summary of some recent successful hate crime cases, as well as highlights of some of the activities of our hate crime co-ordinators.
In next month’s newsletter, we will be focusing on our ongoing work in tackling domestic abuse and how we are working with other partners to improve our joint response to offences involving Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG).
I hope you find this month’s edition both insightful and informative.
CPS and Police National Criminal Justice Hate Crime Conference 2023
The end of March saw the first in-person joint criminal justice hate crime conference since 2019. It was held over two days in Newcastle and brought together, representatives, practitioners and academics from key stakeholder and community groups from across the country.
As well as speeches from the CPS and NPCC Hate crime leads, CCP Lionel Idan and DCC Mark Hamilton OBE, other key speakers included the Association of Police Crime Commissioners lead for Hate Crime Alison Lowe, the Police Crime Commissioner for Northumbria Kim McGuiness, and the Chair of the Police Independent Advisory Group on hate crime, Mike Ainsworth.
In his opening remarks to the conference, Lionel emphasised the importance of agencies and community groups working together in strong partnership to tackle hate crime across all strands. Lionel highlighted positive examples of joint working across the country and the importance of collective ownership and support in the fight against all forms of hate crime.
A Focus on Disability Hate Crime
During a focused session on Disability Hate crime hosted by Dr Mark Brookes MBE, the conference heard from Andrew Haigh of the Haigh foundation who shared his lived experience as a disabled person.
Andrew highlighted the importance of Criminal Justice agencies building and retaining the trust of the Disabled community, in order to bring more offenders to justice.
Lionel shared positive data on the increases in sentence uplifts but stressed the importance of not shying away from the year on year drop in the number of referrals, and the need for urgent collective action to address this.
The conference also featured a plenary session on ‘Hate crime and Far-right ideologies’, as well as a number of workshops on topics such as Transgender hate crime and anti-Muslim hate crime.
Reflecting on 30 years since the murder of Stephen Lawrence
The conference presented an opportunity to reflect on the legacy of Stephen including the McPherson Inquiry. It was particularly moving to hear from Dr Neville Lawrence OBE, who spoke about the impact of his son’s murder and his fight for justice and change.
Other speakers such as Professor John Grieve CBE QPM, Dr John Azhar OBE and Iqbal Bhana OBE, shared their reflections of the legacy of the McPherson Inquiry which defined the UK’s response to hate crime and other state functions.
In his closing remarks to the conference, Lionel thanked Dr Lawrence for being an inspiration over the years and spoke about the legacy of Stephen living on through so many Champions and Upstanders present at the conference. Lionel pledged his unwavering commitment to tackling all forms of hate crime in his role as the Chief Crown Prosecutor for the Area where Stephen was murdered, as well as the CPS national lead for hate crime.
CCP Lionel Idan had the pleasure of attending the recent CST Annual dinner in central London as a guest, the first since the outbreak of the pandemic.
Representatives from the police, community groups and politicians from across the main political parties were present to show their solidarity and support, including Home Secretary Suella Braverman KC MP and the Leader of the Opposition Sir Keir Starmer KCB KC.
The Home Secretary gave the keynote speech and announced the formation of a new Jewish Community Police, Crime and Security Taskforce to enhance efforts to combat anti-Jewish hate crime. The joint taskforce will be chaired by the Home Secretary and will draw on the expertise of the police, ministers, CST and other key stakeholders.
Spotlight on Transphobic Hate Crime
In London South, we recently successfully prosecuted a protestor who shouted transphobic abuse at two people at a rally in Parliament Square.
To date this year, we have prosecuted over 100 cases of transphobic hate crime across the country and in 82% of those cases, the suspect was convicted of one or more such crimes.
While the number of transphobic hate crime prosecutions is not reflective of the full extent of hate crime reported by members of the community, in the vast majority of the cases referred to us by the police, we continue to charge the perpetrators. Of those cases, we have successfully secured uplifts in the sentences passed in 62.5%.
Like other strands of hate crime, Transphobic hate crime does not only have a devastating impact on individual victims, it has a much wider impact on the rest of the community and on society at large. As the national lead for hate crime, Lionel invited the CPS Speak Out Champion, Sophie Cook, to one of our national hate crime coordinators’ meetings. At the meeting, Sophie helped to raise awareness of the nature and impact of transphobic hate crime and shared her own lived experience while shedding light on some of the barriers to reporting.
As Chair of our National CPS External Consultative Group (ECG) on hate crime, Lionel welcomed Eva Echo as a guest speaker at a recent ECG meeting.
Eva is an activist, writer and public speaker with a focus on transgender rights and mental health. She uses her own experiences to shed light on what it is to be transgender and to challenge the obstacles which gender diverse people face within today’s society.
Stephen Lawrence Day – In conversation with Dr Neville Lawrence OBE
To mark 30 years since the racist murder of Stephen Lawrence on the streets of South London, Chief Crown prosecutor and National lead for Hate crime, Lionel Idan, hosted a conversation with Dr Neville Lawrence OBE at our offices in Petty France.
In attendance was Dr John Azah OBE, Chair of the Racial Equality Centre in Kingston South London, as well as over 700 people. Some of the topics explored included the way in which hate crimes are investigated and prosecuted today, the recent concerns raised in the Baroness Casey report, the importance of building and maintaining public confidence in the criminal justice system, as well as Stephen's legacy and the hopes and dreams of Dr Lawrence for a generation to come.
In what were, at times, very touching and moving scenes, Dr Lawrence described the fateful night in question when he went into Stephen’s bedroom and found it empty.
He also shared the overwhelming emotions that he and his family went through in the days, months and years that followed, as well as his struggle to eventually forgive those responsible for killing his son.
Of the McPherson Inquiry, Dr Lawrence and Dr Azah described their sense of renewed hope which the Inquiry brought and its outcome which shaped many criminal justice institutions.
Dr Lawrence talked of his hopes for the youth of today and tomorrow, and an end to violence on the streets of London. Initial changes had come about in the aftermath of Stephen’s murder, but more changes were needed and possible for the next generation, as Stephen’s legacy had shown.
In his closing remarks, Lionel shared his reflections on why Stephen’s murder had resonated so strongly with so many at the time, as Stephen represented the best in us - a bright young man with hopes, dreams and a brilliant future ahead of him. Lionel stressed the need to keep alive, the lessons that the events of 30 years ago had taught us and to work towards a future where diversity in all its forms was embraced.
Joint Op-Ed: “Stephen Lawrence – A generation of legacy”
“Stephen’s murder struck a chord with so many because he represented the best in us - a bright young man with hopes, dreams and a brilliant future ahead of him - while his life was brutally cut short by the worst.”
By Lionel Idan and Dr Neville Lawrence OBE
30 years ago, the racist murder of Stephen Lawrence marked a seminal moment in attitudes towards race in Britain. It led to widespread change across criminal justice institutions and an overhaul of race relations legislation.
Stephen’s murder struck a chord with so many because he represented the best in us - a bright young man with hopes, dreams and a brilliant future ahead of him - while his life was brutally cut short by the worst.
The subsequent inquiry by the retired high court judge, Sir William Macpherson, into the way in which Stephen’s murder was initially handled, identified lessons for the investigation and prosecution of hate crime. Today, crimes motivated by hatred towards a person’s actual or perceived race, religion, sexuality, disability or gender, are enshrined in law. They also attract an increase in sentence on conviction.
The Race Relations Amendment Act 2000 which placed an obligation on public bodies to eliminate discrimination, and the abolition of the double jeopardy rule – which stated that people cannot be tried twice for the same crime and which eventually led to the conviction of two of the killers of Stephen – are just some of the many significant changes that have come about as a direct result of the legacy of Stephen.
Despite these changes, over the years, we have seen how racially motivated crime as well as hate crime across other strands, has continued to rise especially in times of social tension.
During the Covid pandemic, we saw certain communities such as the Chinese and Muslim communities, face increased acts of hatred. Disabled people were also targeted including some for not wearing a mask despite having an exemption.
The growth in online communication over the years has also seen an escalation in crimes of hate across the strands - The racist abuse hurled at England players on social media during the Euros in 2020 was followed by racist graffiti being left near the Arthur Wharton mural in Darlington, just hours after crowds had gathered to show their support for the Three Lions.
We cannot wait for yet another defining moment in our society, to answer the call for urgent action. We must endeavour to work together now, to tackle these issues.
The recent National Criminal Justice Hate Crime conference we held in March, presented an opportunity for partners, community leads and stakeholder groups across all strands, to reaffirm their joint pledge to work in strong partnership to fight all forms of hate crime. This is a legacy of Stephen’s that must live on through a generation of deeds and not just words.
Today, the over-representation of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic youths and adults as defendants within the criminal justice system remains an ongoing issue of concern. Criminal justice agencies are taking steps to better understand the underlying causes of these and other issues of disparity, and this must remain a priority if Stephen’s legacy is to live on.
The recent report by the Children’s Commissioner into the strip searching of children following the shocking case of Child Q in Hackney, found that Black children are up to six times more likely to be strip searched when compared to national population figures.
Baroness Casey’s independent review into the Metropolitan police, which followed the kidnap, rape and murder of Sarah Everard by a serving Met officer, concluded that the Met police were ‘institutionally sexist, racist and homophobic’.
Stephen’s legacy teaches us that we must have the courage and the will to confront prejudice and hatred in all its forms, wherever it exists. The need to work together quickly and collaboratively to tackle such disparities and acts of hatred, is of paramount importance.
We believe that all sections of society have the capacity to be champions for positive change. We are determined to work together with all who share a strong commitment to fighting hatred in all its forms. History teaches us that where there is a will, there is a way.
We must look to the future while keeping an eye on the past, for it is the past that informs the present which in turn, helps to shape the future. We must never forget the reasons why Stephen’s murder was a catalyst for change.
We will keep alive, the lessons that the events of 30 years ago have taught us and will actively work towards a more tolerant society where diversity is seen and embraced, for generations to come.
For lest we forget the mistakes of the past, we are bound to repeat them.
International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
By Lisa Mayne, Hate Crime Coordinator for London South
As one of the Hate Crime Coordinators for London South, I have responsibility for Crown Court cases. I also manage a team of lawyers who handle all types of crown court cases including hate crimes.
Building and maintaining public confidence in the prosecution of hate crime is a priority and one of the ways in which I do this is to ensure that we prosecute the right offender for the right crime. Part of my role as a Legal Manager is to ensure that the decisions of our lawyers meet our Code for Crown Prosecutors (Code). I therefore monitor the quality of our charging decisions and identify good practice as well as any areas for improvement.
Where a hate crime case no longer meets our Code, I often provide a second opinion to my lawyers to ensure that the decision to stop a case is correct. This also ensures an element of consistency in our decision making in hate crime cases.
Where a perpetrator of hate crime is convicted, the courts must increase their sentence to reflect the hate crime element of the offence. This is called an ‘uplift’. My team and I work in strong partnership with the barristers who prosecute our hate crime cases in the Crown Court, to ensure that ‘uplifts’ are sought in all appropriate cases.
Some strands of hate crime continue to remain under reported for a variety of reasons. Breaking down the barriers to reporting and giving victims the confidence and support to report these crimes, remains an ongoing priority. The lead Met police officer for hate crime and I, recently began a series of joint ‘deep dive’ analysis into cases which were reported to the police but not referred to the CPS for advice on charge. This joint exercise is intended to identify ways of increasing the number of referrals to us for charge, which in turn, should increase the number of prosecutions for hate crimes across the strands.
Disability hate crime is one of the particular strands of hate crime where the number of referrals continually remains very low. I am part of a working group on Disability Hate crime chaired by the Met’s lead officer for hate crime. The group also includes representatives from Inclusion London, Stay Safe East, Community Connex, as well as a victim of disability hate crime. The purpose of this working group is to explore ways of improving the number of reports and referrals for prosecution and hopefully, enable more offenders of disability hate crime to be brought to justice.
LGBTQI Community Engagement
On Saturday 25 March, the MPS delivered a Hate Crime Awareness Event at County Hall Southbank to raise awareness of LGBT+ Hate Crime. In attendance were our London Hate Crime co-ordinators to explain the role of the CPS in prosecuting homophobic, bi-phobic and transphobic hate crime. Also at the event were Local Councillors, LGBTQI community members and the Hate Crime Stakeholder Reference Group.
Senior District Crown Prosecutor, Toks Adesuyan, provided an overview of the CPS and explained The Code for Crown Prosecutors in reference to hate crimes, including sexual orientation and gender identity. Toks then described the CPS Guidance and Policy with reference to the enhanced service for victims. Acting Senior District Prosecutor, Varinder Hayre, also covered a range of topics during the presentation including how the CPS applies the Code and Hate Crime Policies in prosecuting hate crime matters and how we work with stakeholders, including the police to improve file quality. Varinder used a number of case studies to support the delivery of the presentation, including case examples to explain the differences between demonstration and motivation limbs.
The presentation concluded with Toks and Varinder explaining the challenges prosecutors face when dealing with Hate Crime prosecutions, including under-reporting and low referrals from the Police. The audience then learnt about the ways in which the CPS is trying to improve Hate Crime outcomes, including the use of Scrutiny Panels to examine decision-making, as well as Police and prosecutor Hate Crime training sessions and Community outreach work.
Reflecting on the event, Varinder and Toks said, "Working with local communities to explain the role and powers of the CPS when addressing Hate Crime is vital. It helps us to build trust with those that we serve and enables us to receive crucial feedback from community members on the services that we provide".
1. Man convicted of shouting transphobic and homophobic abuse at a rally in Parliament Square.
The defendant targeted two victims during a rally in parliament square and subjected them to transphobic and homophobic abuse. He was successfully prosecuted and sentenced to a 12-month community order including 180 hours of unpaid work which was increased from 100 hours to reflect the hate crime element of the offence. The defendant was also ordered to pay compensation of £250 to the two victims.
2. Prison for defendant who targeted police officer who had a disability.
Police officers attended the defendant’s home to execute a warrant. During the course of arresting the defendant, he targeted one of the officer’s and made derogatory and offensive comments about his hearing and speech. The defendant was prosecuted for a public order offence and sentenced to two months in prison to run consecutively to other sentences passed, in order to reflect the hate crime element of the behaviour.
3. Man and woman in Lidl queue convicted for subjecting a victim to transphobic abuse and threats.
The victim was in a queue at the Lidl store, when the two defendants tried to jump the queue. When the victim politely asked them not to do so, the defendants angrily subjected the victim to transphobic abuse and intimidatory behaviour.
Both defendants were successfully prosecuted and sentenced to a Community order of 12 months which included 100 hours of unpaid work which was increased to 150 hours unpaid work to reflect the hate crime element of their offending. Both defendants were also ordered to pay the victim £100 and the a restraining order was also imposed against them preventing them from contacting the victim and the manager of the store directly or indirectly.
4. Youth who streamed online racist, homophobic, antisemitic content brought to justice.
The defendant was a Youth who streamed online racist, homophobic, antisemitic content to people over the internet. He was successfully prosecuted under the Misuse of Communications Act 1988 and sentenced to an 18month community order which was uplifted to reflect the Hate Crime element. A Criminal Behaviour Order (CBO) for 2 years was also imposed against him.
5. Defendant, who abused two Muslim men, pleads guilty to religiously aggravated hate crime.
The two victims had a stand outside the station and were handing out leaflets when the defendant approached them and hurled abuse at both of them making specific reference to their religion. The defendant was fined £230 which was increased to £384 to reflect the hate crime element of the offences. He was ordered to pay £100 in compensation to the victims, as well as costs of £85.
6. Defendant convicted of racially abusing and assaulting his long term partner in domestic abuse case.
Hate crime can occur within many different contexts and in this particular case, it occurred as part of a domestic abuse. The defendant domestically abused his long-term partner, and on one occasion, tried to break into her house and threaten her.
The defendant was charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm, making a threat to kill, two charges of sending an electronic communication with intent to cause distress or anxiety. Because the defendant also demonstrated hostility towards the victim based on her racial identity, he was additionally charged with an offence of racially aggravated harassment by putting another in fear of violence.
With the weight of the evidence stacked against him, the defendant was convicted of all charges. He was sentenced to five years in prison which was uplifted to reflect the racially aggravated element of the offence.
7. Football ban for Chelsea fan who made racist gesture at Tottenham’s Son Heung Min.
A so-called Chelsea football fan who made a racist gesture towards Tottenham’s Heung Min during a match, was prosecuted and given a 3 year football ban as a part of his sentence. You can report about the case here - Three-year football ban for Chelsea fan who made a racist gesture at Tottenham’s Son Heung-min | The Crown Prosecution Service (cps.gov.uk)