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Crown Prosecution Service – Response to Hate Crime James Burnham, District Crown Prosecutor.

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Presentation on theme: "Crown Prosecution Service – Response to Hate Crime James Burnham, District Crown Prosecutor."— Presentation transcript:

1 Crown Prosecution Service – Response to Hate Crime James Burnham, District Crown Prosecutor

2 Hate Crime?? Many victims do not feel hated by the offender and some feel that the use of the phrase about their case only makes them feel worse about the incident as it imports a further level of animosity towards them that they did not feel at the time of the incident The word ‘hatred’ does not appear in any recent or frequently used legislation.

3 Various Types of Hate Crime Race Religious Homophobic Trans Gender Disability

4 What do we have to prove? The offence was motivated by hostility to the victim because of their race, religion, sexual orientation, change of gender or disability, or The offender demonstrated hostility to the victim based on their race, religion, sexual orientation, change of gender or disability or the offender’s perception of those characteristics.

5 Hostility? hostility falls well short of hatred. It is not defined in the legislation but the dictionary definition would include: ill-will, ill-feeling, spite, contempt, prejudice, unfriendliness, antagonism, resentment, and dislike.

6 Hostility and Vulnerability – the distinction. A simple example of the distinction would be where a victim, who is a wheel chair user, has her handbag stolen which had been hanging on the back of her chair. This case is unlikely to be motivated by hostility towards the disability, but the disability has made the victim more vulnerable to this sort of crime. the type of offence sometimes known as ‘mate crime’ where a disabled person is befriended by the offender because they are an easy target for offences such as theft or fraud is unlikely to be a crime where hostility to a disabled person can be proved. However, in both these examples the court will take into account the vulnerability of the victim when considering sentence in any event.

7 Recording / Reporting The ACPO definition is: any criminal offence which is perceived, by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by a hostility or prejudice based on a personal characteristic this does not fit in with what we have to prove, but in all these cases the police should flag the case as a ‘hate crime’ and we will flag the case on our system in the same way. In 2011 to 2012, there were 43,748 crimes recorded by police as hate crimes of these: race - 82% sexual orientation - 10% religion - 4% disability - 4% transgender identity - 1%.

8 Wessex Caseload homophobic and transphobic cases (1127 cases in England and Wales) 18 disability hate crime cases (573 cases in England and Wales) In the same period in Wessex we prosecuted 520 racial and religiously aggravated cases.

9 Special measures A range of special measures are available to ensure that victims can give ‘best evidence’. The appointment of an intermediary Aids to communication The court can order that the public are excluded from the court room Or it can prohibit publication of anything leading to identification of the victim’s name or address under Section 46 of the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act Screens video links

10 On line Crime offences committed using social network sites such as Facebook and twitter are now covered by a CPS policy document Communications sent via social media are capable of amounting to criminal offences and prosecutors should distinguish between: 1 Communications which may constitute credible threats of violence to the person or damage to property or 2 Communications which specifically target an individual or individuals and which may constitute harassment or stalking within the meaning of the Protection from Harassment Act Communications which may amount to a breach of a court order. 4 Communications which do not fall into any of the categories above and fall to be considered separately (see below): i.e. those which may be considered grossly offensive, indecent, obscene or false which will be subject to a high threshold and in many cases a prosecution is unlikely to be in the public interest.


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