Those responsible for hate crime in Sussex, Surrey and Kent are much more likely to be convicted for their crimes than in other parts of the country.
New figures show 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 (Tuesday October 17) 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 and 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.
More details of the CPS South East’s work to tackle all forms of hate crime are available on the website www.cps.gov.uk/southeast/working_with_the_community/tackling_hate_crime/, which is updated monthly with the latest successful hate crime convictions.
You can also learn more about the CPS’ #hatecrimematters campaign on the CPS website.