DPP: CPS committed to tackling hate
Recent increases in recorded hate crime demonstrate the need to tackle the issue and protect affected communities, according to the Director of Public Prosecutions.
Data released by two large police forces recently showed a marked increase in reports of racist and religious hate crimes in the weeks following the terrorist attacks at Manchester Arena, London Bridge and Finsbury Park.
Figures published by the Metropolitan Police showed that hate crimes committed against Muslims more than tripled in the week of the attack in Manchester on 22 May, increasing from 19 to 63, and increased again to 117 in the week after the London Bridge attack on 3 June.
Data compiled by Greater Manchester Police shows that the number of reports of religious hate crimes increased five-fold in the weeks after the Manchester Arena attack before returning to normal levels. Incidents reported between 22 May and 19 June increased to 224, compared to 37 in the same period in 2016.
Meanwhile Home Office figures released last month showed that police-recorded hate crime across England and Wales rose by more than 20 per cent in the first quarter of 2017, compared to the same period of 2016.
Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Alison Saunders said: "These increases show what a significant issue hate crime is in our communities and the CPS has a critical role to play in ensuring that cases are identified and prosecuted appropriately.
"We have asked our Chief Crown Prosecutors to ensure all front-line prosecutors are aware of the importance of identifying hate crimes as soon as possible, so that we have the best possible chance of delivering justice to victims."
The CPS deals with cases of racist and religious hate crime in the same way as other hate crimes - which could be motivated by prejudice based on homophobia, transphobia or disability. As well as assessing if there is sufficient evidence to prosecute the offence, prosecutors will also determine whether there is sufficient evidence that the offence was motivated by hostility to the victim's race or religion, perceived or otherwise.
"It is particularly important that we recognise and flag these cases from the start, so that we can protect our diverse communities," the DPP added. "The evidence of witnesses who can tell us about anything that might demonstrate to a court that the incident was motivated by hate is also, therefore, crucial. This could be something like confirming that you heard racist abuse or identifying a repeated pattern of racist behaviour.
"When we can prove to a court that a case is a hate crime, we will ask for an uplifted sentence to reflect the serious impact on the entire community of such offending.
"We want communities and individuals to have the confidence to come forward and report these offences, no matter how minor they may appear. Hate crime divides communities and the CPS has an absolute commitment to bring perpetrators to justice and support victims and witnesses through the criminal justice system."
Those affected by hate crime are urged to report incidents their local police force. You can also report crimes anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. The public can also report hate crimes to Tell Mama, who support victims of islamaphobia or the Community Security Trust (CST), who support victims of antisemitism.
The CST and Tell Mama have this week published a joint guide for victims of hate crime (PDF file 3MB). It provides important information on how to recognise and report potential crimes, a step-by-step guide to the criminal justice process and details on the support available to victims.
Dave Rich of CST said: "Prosecuting offenders is a vital part of the broader effort to combat antisemitism and other forms of hate crime. It gives confidence to victims and reassurance to communities that it is worth reporting hate crimes, because action will be taken. We have worked closely with the CPS to increase prosecutors' knowledge and understanding of antisemitism, so that any evidence of hostility based on race or religion will be recognised and taken into account."
Fiyaz Mughal of Tell Mama said: "The CPS and the police have worked systematically to ensure prosecutions in the public interest and where public interest tests have been met. We have found the CPS to be pro-active, willing to learn and engage with civil society hate crimes groups and they have repeatedly made clear that the reporting in of hate incidents is essential in getting access to justice. This partnership working is productive and we urge individuals targeted for anti-Muslim hate incidents to report them."