CPS publishes new public statements on hate crime
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has today (21 August) published new public statements on how it will prosecute hate crime and support victims in Kent, Surrey and Sussex.
The revised statements cover the different strands of hate crime: racist and religious; disability; and homophobic, biphobic and transphobic. CPS South East, which prosecutes cases in Kent, Surrey and Sussex, has already put the prosecution of hate crimes as one of its major priorities.
Between 2014-15 and 2015-16, convictions for hate crime in Kent rose 25% from 234 to 293 cases and in Surrey, they increased by 11% from 163 to 181 cases. In the same period, convictions in Sussex declined marginally from 300 to 291 cases, as did the overall number of hate crimes prosecuted by the CPS in the county, although the conviction rate of 86.1% was well above the national average of 83.2%.
Jaswant Narwal from the CPS said: "The high conviction rate for hate crime in Kent, Surrey and Sussex shows how much of a priority tackling this type of crime is for us. It has an appalling effect on the victims and society and I know only too well from my own experiences over the years what it feels like to be the victim of ignorance and hatred.
"I was born here and I've lived here all my life, yet I still get comments from people telling me to go home, simply because of the colour of my skin. That's why hate crime is something I'm determined to tackle, as no-one should have to change their way of life or live in fear.
"I want to get the message across to people that being different is not a crime. We should all celebrate our differences, as hating others only starts with hating yourself first."
In addition to the public statements, the CPS has also published revised prosecution guidance that sets out how prosecutors should make charging decisions and handle these cases in court. Key points include:
- In recognition of the growth of hate crime perpetrated using social media, a commitment to treat online crime as seriously as offline offences, while taking into account the potential impact on the wider community as well as the victim.
- For the first time, CPS policy will acknowledge that victims of biphobic hate crime have different experiences and needs to victims of homophobic and transphobic offences.
- The CPS recognises it has a responsibility to actively remove barriers to justice for disabled victims and witnesses, ensuring they get the right support to enable them to give their best evidence.
The CPS is marking the publication of the documents with the launch of a social media campaign - #HateCrimeMatters - to encourage people to come forward and report hate crime incidents, which Jaswant is taking part in, along with other CPS South East staff. The CPS is also publishing an online support guide specifically for disabled victims and witnesses of crime.
Jaswant added: "I hope that the launch of these documents will give people more confidence to come forward and report any hate crime they are experiencing. I can assure any victims in Sussex that they will be taken seriously and given the support they need."
A hate crime is an offence where the perpetrator is motivated by hostility or shows hostility towards the victim's disability, race, religion, sexual orientation or transgender identity. More details of the CPS South East's work to tackle all forms of hate crime are available on our website, which is updated monthly with the latest successful hate crime convictions.
CPS South East works closely with local community groups and our Local Scrutiny Involvement Panel is made up of community representatives and members of criminal justice agencies, who work together to improve the prosecution process and our service. We are currently looking for members of the public to join the panel, particularly those with a background in representing people affected by issues related to hate crime - disability, racial, religious, homophobic, transphobic and biphobic. If you would be interested, please email SouthEast.Communications@cps.gov.uk
Notes to editors
- Jaswant Narwal is the Chief Crown Prosecutor of CPS South East, which is responsible for prosecuting crime in Kent, Surrey and Sussex.
- Figures are taken from the CPS Hate Crime and Crimes against Older People report, 2014/15 and 2015/16.