Hate crime conviction rate rises in England and Wales

Stephen Gray February 14, 2012
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The Crown Prosecution Service’s latest report on hate crime figures shows that the rate of successful prosecutions for hate crimes in England and Wales has risen.

While the total number of hate crimes referred to the CPS has gone up, the rate at which convictions are secured is higher than ever before.

Over thirty percent of gay and trans hate crime defendants were aged 18-24, but the proportion of under-18s appearing in court for these crimes has fallen.

The figures form part of the Hate Crimes and Crimes Against Older People Report 2010-11 (PDF).

A total of 13,276 people appeared in court charged with hate crimes in 2010-11, most of which were race-related.

In 2010-11, the number of defendants the charged for homophobic and transphobic offences rose marginally to 963, up 6% on the preceding year.

The Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer QC, said: “All crime is unacceptable but offences that are driven by hostility or hatred based on personal characteristics are particularly damaging to any civilised society.

“I am particularly pleased that the number of guilty pleas is increasing as this demonstrates that our prosecutors are building stronger cases. The increase in guilty pleas benefits the victims of these crimes, many of whom would find giving evidence a stressful ordeal.”

The rate of conviction for homophobic and transphobic hate crime also rose slightly from 78% of 994 cases in 2007/08 to 81% of 1281 in 2010/11.

While the number of defendants found not guilty increased from 217 to 247 over that period, the CPS points out that relative to the number of cases in total each year, the rate of unsuccessful prosecutions actually fell by 2.5%.

Referring to the jail sentenced given to the Derby men convicted of stirring up hatred against gays last week, Mr Starmer said: “Last week, three men in Derby received prison sentences for stirring up hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation. This was the first case of its kind in British legal history and a significant step forward for us in protecting the LGB community.

“This report highlights a lot of the excellent work being done by our prosecutors across England and Wales, using all available measures they can to ensure the victims in these cases are able to give their best evidence to the court. This can involve using intermediaries to help those who need them to communicate with the court, as well as other special measures. We are currently examining the results of a piece of research into the use of special measures to make sure that those with specific needs are effectively supported.

“The CPS has an important part to play in tackling hate crime in our society, and I am encouraged by these statistics that we are on a firm footing to continue that fight. There is a lot more that needs to be done, within society as a whole, particularly in the area of crimes against the disabled community as I have already acknowledged.”

The CPS’s report also highlights the need for greater confidence building work with the gay and trans community.

The proportion of homophobic and transphobic cases which collapse as a result of victim issues has increased from 17.1% in 2007/08 to 24.3% in 2010/11.

Almost 11% of unsuccessful outcomes were due to those who unexpectedly did not attend court, which remains nearly three times the average for all prosecutions in 2010/11.

87% of defendants charged with anti-gay or trans hate crimes were men. Three quarters were white British.

In total, 77.7% were aged 18-59. The CPS also noted that the proportion of both 10-13 year olds and 14-17 year old defendants fell from 2.3% and 24.8% respectively in 2007/08 to 1.3% and 17.2% in 2010/11.

More: anti-gay crime, Crime, crown prosecution service, Hate crime

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