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Record numbers given tougher hate crime sentences

Crimes involving hostility on grounds of sexual orientation and transgender identity receive tougher sentencing

Record numbers of tougher hate crime sentences are being passed by the courts after applications made by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), data published today reveals.

In 2016/17, more than half of all cases involving hostility on the grounds of race, religion, sexual orientation, disability or transgender identity saw sentences “uplifted”, meaning that the courts passed increased sentences in more than 6,300 cases.

This year’s figure of 52.2% compares with just 2.9% in 2007/08 when the CPS began compiling its annual Hate Crime Report.

Recent case studies where an uplifted sentence has been imposed:

Director of Public Prosecutions Alison Saunders said:

“Crimes motivated by hate have a corrosive effect on society and it is pleasing to see the courts are using their powers to increase sentences in the majority of cases for the first time.

“Sentence uplifts are important because they demonstrate that the CPS has built the case effectively, the hate crime element has been recognised and the perpetrator has received a more severe sentence as a result.

“The significant increase in uplifts since 2007 reflects the hard work of the CPS and police to present these cases in court and we aim to increase the proportion even further by 2020.”

Overall, the number of hate crime prosecutions was down from 15,542 in 2015/16 to 14,480 in 2016/17, while the number of referrals increased slightly from 12,997 to 13,086.

“We know hate crime is under-reported and that is why we ran our recent #hatecrimematters campaign aimed at raising awareness of what hate crime is and what people can do about it,” added Saunders.

“The drop in referrals recorded last year has impacted on the number of completed prosecutions in 2016/17 and we are working with the police at a local and national level to understand the reasons for the overall fall in referrals in the past two years.”

The report also reflects an increase in the conviction rate for disability hate crimes – up by 4.2% to 79.3% in 2016/17. There were more than 1,000 prosecutions for disability hate crime last year – the highest ever number.

A Stonewall spokesperson told Out News Global:

“Our recent LGBT in Britain report shows that hate crime against lesbian, gay, bi and trans people have risen dramatically. For example, two in five trans people have been the victim of hate crime or incident because of their gender identity in the last 12 months.

“While it is encouraging to see more judges opt for tougher sentences, we would like to see a change in the law regarding anti-LGBT hate crime, so they are treated in the same way as crimes motivated by race and faith.

We are also pleased to see an increase in referrals from police forces. It remains vital that all frontline staff are trained to identify and monitor anti-LGBT hate crime. This helps victims feel confident enough to come forward to report hate crime, which in turn results in an increased number of prosecutions.”

In August 2017 the CPS launched its #hatecrimematters campaign to raise public awareness of hate crime and the efforts to combat it – for more, click here.

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