Comment: Why as a top prosecutor it’s important to be a straight ally
London’s Chief Crown Prosecutor Baljit Ubhey writes for PinkNews on being from a minority community, but the importance of being a straight ally for the LGBT community.
At the moment my organisation is in the midst of our annual People Month, which is an opportunity to celebrate everyone’s contribution to our work delivering justice for victims and witnesses of crime.
I would wager our diverse workforce represents most if not all of the London communities we serve and the month is also dedicated to celebrating and embracing individuality, which cuts right to the heart of our collective values. I am very pleased therefore to be contributing a piece to PinkNews in support of IDAHOT day, which aims to stamp out attitudes that threaten that individuality.
As the Chief Crown Prosecutor for London I am in overall charge of the vast majority of prosecutions in London’s courts and nearly a fifth of the total criminal prosecutions in England and Wales. It is a position that I have worked very hard to achieve and one I get great satisfaction from.
I am also particularly proud of being a CPS Senior Straight Ally, a role I took on because I myself am from a minority community and I want to make sure we continue to build an inclusive working environment that embraces individuality.
There are a number of allies in the CPS, senior managers across the country working with our LGBT role models to help foster this environment.
We are a ultimately a people business, defending the rights of individuals across all of London’s communities to go about their lives without the risk of being a victim of crime.
If we lose sight of that we will not be able to deliver the best prosecution service that we can, so I see my role as an ally and as the national hate crime champion for the CPS as key in ensuring we serve our communities with understanding and respect.
On IDAHOT day I want to ensure our LGBT communities are aware that we have specific policies for cases involving homophobic and transphobic hate crime, that we take these crimes extremely seriously and that individuals who target others based on their sexual orientation will face more severe sentences.
Even seemingly trivial (‘low level’ offences or what some people may class as anti-social behaviour) hate crimes are awarded additional gravitas in the courts and we are more likely to take a prosecution forward as a result.
More from PinkNews
We know from our data and from listening to members of LGBT communities that there is sadly massive underreporting of homophobic and transphobic hate crime.
In London there are more than 8.5 million people and we just have a handful of prosecutions, which cannot be an accurate reflection.
I am proud that the majority of the cases referred to us are prosecuted successfully but CPS wants to encourage more reporting of such incidents.
Victims and witness can find going to court difficult and this can be even more daunting if your sexuality is not out in the open.
We of course respect and understand this, but on IDAHOT Day I ask for the help of the LGBT Communities in reporting crimes to help us ensure individuals who commit crimes based on a person’s sexual orientation receive the severest sentence possible in the courts.
Baljit Ubhey is London Chief Crown Prosecutor for the Crown Prosecution Service