New figures show convictions for disability hate crime in the South East have seen a huge rise of more than 60% over the last year.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has released its Hate Crime and Crimes Against Older People Annual Report.
CPS South East, which covers the counties of Kent, Surrey and Sussex, saw the number of successful prosecutions for disability hate crime increase from just 23 in 2014/15 to 38 in 2015/16.
The number of convictions for all hate crime in the South East increased to 765 from 697 over the same period, a 10% rise. The overall conviction rate rose from 83.1% to 86.1%, putting the South East Area amongst the highest performers in the country.
Convictions for homophobic and transphobic crime in the South East rose from 81.2% to 83.0% from 2014/15 to 2015/16. The number of successful prosecutions for crimes against older people remained almost the same throughout the two years, with 213 convictions in 2015/16, just two more than a year earlier.
Chief Crown Prosecutor for CPS South East, Jaswant Narwal, said: “Hate crime is a particularly vile type of crime, as it is motivated purely by prejudice against others, whether on grounds of race, religion, their sexuality or disability.
“Victims and witnesses are at the heart of everything we do and hate crimes affect some of the most vulnerable members of our society. As such, tackling hate crime is one of the CPS’ priorities and in the South East, we have made significant improvements over the last two years in achieving this.”
She added: “The improvement in our performance on tackling disability hate crime is especially pleasing, given the focus we have put on this. In the last year, our prosecutors have all received training on disability hate crime, which has helped to ensure we are successfully identifying and prosecuting such cases. To supplement this, we have also held an awareness session to increase understanding of how we can best support those with autism and learning disabilities, which I knew everyone who attended found extremely valuable.”