Home Office figures released today reveal a 29% increase in hate crime reports in England and Wales.
Hate crime conviction rates for the South East are amongst the highest in country making those responsible for hate crime in Kent, Surrey and Sussex much more likely to be convicted for their crimes than in other parts of the country.
New figures show Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) South East, which handles these types of prosecutions in the three counties, has the second highest conviction rate out of 13 CPS Areas in the country.
The figures in the CPS hate crime annual report, published today show that, across the South East, defendants were convicted in 676 out of a total of 767 hate crime cases between April 2016 and March 2017 – an 88.1% conviction rate.
The area had the country’s highest conviction rate for homophobic and transphobic crime at 90.2% and was second in the county for convictions for racial and religious hate crime, with a total of 553 out of 624 cases.
Defendants responsible for hate crimes motivated ‘wholly or partly’ by hostility based on perceived religion, race, sexual orientation or disability can also be given stiffer sentences by the court. These “uplifted” sentences can range from extended prison terms to longer community punishments, depending on the crime.
In the South East in 2016-17, just over 60% of sentences were increased in this way, compared to the national average of 52.2%.
Jaswant Narwal from the CPS said: “It is really encouraging to see such a high conviction rate for hate crimes, especially as they are such an appalling type of crime, singling people out for being different, either on the basis of their race, religion, sexual orientation or disability. Tackling hate crime is one of the top priorities for the CPS in Kent, Surrey and Sussex and these figures show how our staff are doing everything they can to ensure perpetrators are brought to justice.
“I hope these figures give confidence to anyone who is the victim of a hate crime to come forward and report it, knowing that those responsible are likely to be convicted and punished appropriately.”
The conviction rate was lower for disability hate crime, with convictions in just over three-quarters of cases – 31 out of a total of 41 cases in the three counties.
Jaswant added: “We are concerned about the low-level of reporting of disability hate crime in the South East. I find it hard to believe that we only had 41 cases across our whole area in a year. We will be working closely with local community groups and the police over the next year to try to increase levels of reporting.
“Where anyone is experiencing disability hate crime, they should feel able to come forward and report it, knowing they will be supported through the criminal justice process.”
An online support guide specifically for disabled victims and witnesses of crime is available on the CPS website. It was produced with support from organisations that work with disabled people and explains the types of support available and how people can access it. It aims to remove some of the barriers disabled people can face as victims and witnesses.
For information about all forms of hate crime, click here:
CPS South East also works with local community groups. Their 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 the service offered.
They 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.
For more information, email: SouthEast.Communications@cps.gov.uk