In our diverse capital city we ALL need to be aware of hate crime…
As Chief Crown Prosecutor for the Crown Prosecution Service in London it was really important to me that my organisation took part in Hate Crime Awareness Week and supported Stop Hate UK. We are all fortunate to live in a hugely diverse and vibrant city, however, this means that it is ever more important for everyone who works, lives and visits the city to be vigilant to hate crime. Those who commit hate crime attack the diversity which makes this city so great.
In CPS London we will be using Hate Crime Awareness Week to provoke a discussion on hate crime within our teams and units and ensuring that all our staff are up to date with the latest policies and guidance we have on hate crime. In addition I want to make sure that all staff are attuned to the sensitivities involved in prosecuting hate crime including the use of language and terminology.
But it is not just the Criminal Justice System that has a role to play in stopping hate crime.
Thankfully most Londoners will not have seen or experienced hate crime but for many of you reading this blog it may be that you have been a victim yourself, you know someone who is a victim or you have been a witness to hate crime. I want you to know that we will do everything we can to support you through the court process once a prosecution for hate crime has begun. Victims and witnesses of hate crime can be given special measures to help them give evidence in court, such as being screened from the defendant or giving their evidence through an intermediary. CPS prosecutors are given training to deal with these types of cases and the sensitivities they can entail, such as the fear of ‘outing’ in homophobic hate crime cases.
I have seen the profound effect hate crime can have on victims, their families and the wider community – but it is not just victims who can report these types of crime. Even with the support we can give victims may still feel too scared to report the crime themselves. They may not understand that they were a victim of hate crime due to language barriers or learning difficulties. If a witness reports the crime and is willing to give evidence we can prosecute the case as a hate crime. This allows the court to consider a tougher sentence and will hopefully result in the victim and the community feeling a greater sense of justice.
Hate crime can take many forms including hostility towards race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity and disability. However, a victim does not have to be gay to be a victim of homophobic hate crime, it may be that a person shows hostility because they think the victim is gay. Alternatively if a person shouts racist abuse at a victim but they do not understand it because they do not speak English, it can still be prosecuted as a hate crime if a witness hears it and realises that it is racist.
Hate crime is a key priority for the CPS and in London we have a Scrutiny and Involvement Panel which is made up of members of community groups and support organisations as well as our criminal justice partners. The panel examines completed cases to identify where lessons can be learned and where good practice can be shared. It also allows us to gain insight of how these crimes are affecting communities and how we can better support victims.
I have pledged to do all that I can to tackle hate crime by ensuring that our prosecutors robustly prosecute offenders in court, we support victims and working with local communities. I hope that you will also pledge to do your part by not averting your gaze or keeping quiet if you are a witness to a hate crime, report to the police what you see and hear and help us to achieve justice.
Baljit Ubhey OBE
Chief Crown Prosecutor for the Crown Prosecution Service in London
Yesterday, the Home Office produced figures to show an overall 18% increase in Hate Crime reporting for the 5 monitored strands – disability, faith, gender identity, race and sexual orientation – across England and Wales.
While an increase in the reporting of any crime may be disappointing to some – this particular increase provides some good news for all those working to support people affected by Hate Crime. We know from other findings such as the British Crime Survey for England and Wales, that Hate Crime is particularly under-reported across all the strands; many more people experience Hate Crimes and incidents but do not subsequently report to the police or other agencies. This reluctancy to report can be for multiple reasons – a general mistrust of the police or the criminal justice system, a poor previous experience of reporting, a fear of reprisal from the perpetrators or others, or a lack of knowledge or confidence around where and how to report.
Rose Simkins, Chief Executive for Stop Hate UK, said
“ The Home Office figures show, to some extent, that the work Stop Hate UK and other agencies, including the police are doing to raise awareness around Hate Crime and develop accessible systems is slowly having an effect on the increase in reporting from the public. However, we cannot be complacent or satisfied in any way that we have done enough to facilitate people who have experienced Hate Crime from stepping forward to report. We want everyone to know how Hate Crime affects people and how getting the right support can change how we feel about ourselves. Hate Crime ruins lives and we all need to show that we have no tolerance for Hate Crime in our society.
I do welcome the increase in reports of Hate Crime to the police over the last year but I am still concerned that we are not seeing and addressing the true picture of misery that infects the lives of those who experience hatred.”
While the figures show a substantial % change in the number reporting religiously aggravated incidents – 43% in 2014/15 compared to 2013/4 – this increase may be due in part to more accurate recording rather than more people reporting. The reporting of hate motivated crimes due to a person’s gender identity has only increased by 9%; this strand is the most under-reported of all strands with only 605 incidents being reported during 2014/5.
“ Organisations across the sector are encouraged by the increase in reporting of Hate Crime across all the monitored strands; we are all working hard to improve the quality and effectiveness of the services we offer. This week is National Hate Crime Awareness Week and the number of activities and initiatives taking place is great to see. But, while there are thousands of people still being impacted by hateful words and behaviour, our work will continue to try and build their confidence and trust in reporting Hate Crime and we will all continue working together to improve the accessibility of our services. There is ‘No Place For Hate’ in our society.”
National Hate Crime Awareness Week
Stop Hate UK are once again proud to be working in partnership with the charity, 17-24-30, to coordinate and promote National Hate Crime Awareness Week 2015.
17-24-30 was set up in 2009 by Mark Healey and Ryan Parkins following the London bombings in 1999 so that we would never forget the 139 people who were killed or injured. National Hate Crime Awareness Week has since become a focus each year for individuals and organisations, large and small, to show their commitment to stopping hate.
The week begins on Saturday 10 October with a service of Hope and Remembrance at St. Paul’s Cathedral, where a candle will be lit by Maz Saleem, in memory of her father, Mohammed Saleem who was murdered in 2013 and all those who have lost their lives or experienced Hate Crime.
During the week various events and initiatives will be held throughout the country by charitable and voluntary organisations, statutory agencies such as the police, police and crime commissioners, local authorities – and many others. Through information stalls, campaigns and social media these agencies will be working together to raise awareness about the different ways to report Hate Crime and the support services that exist to help those who are affected.
This year, the response from organisations and agencies has been terrific; some of the events and activities being held are very imaginative. In Leeds, the First Direct Arena is lighting up in red in support for all those affected by Hate Crime; there’ll be Samba dancing and food tasting in Plymouth; a multi-media art exhibition in Derby and a ‘Cuppa with a Coppa’ in Yarm. The week’s activities culminate on Saturday 17 October which is the International Day of Hope and Remembrance; a number of candlelight vigils will be taking place across the world in remembrance of all those affected by Hate Crime.
Rose Simkins, Chief Executive of Stop Hate UK said:
“It is wonderful to see so many organisations working together to raise awareness about Hate Crime. Hate Crime across all monitored strands – disability, faith, gender identity, race and sexual orientation is a much under-reported crime. The Home Office Hate Crime statistics, due to be released on 13 October will hopefully show an increase in Hate Crime reporting across England and Wales which will be good news; however, while the number of Hate Crimes continues to rise there are many people who are suffering in silence and whose well-being, physical and mental health has been adversely affected. It’s important that we all continue to work together to ensure that those people who have been impacted by Hate Crime know where and how they can access support and the different options available to them. We want to see all perpetrators brought to justice and our communities made safer.”
Rose also said
“As part of Stop Hate UK’s commitment to the week we are extending our existing helpline service, 0800 138 1625, to anyone in the UK who experiences or witnesses Hate Crime for the duration of the week. Our lines will open at 6pm on 10 October and stay open for anyone, wherever they live in the UK until 6pm on 17 October. Please call or contact us by phone, email, text, text relay, web chat, online forms or the post”.
Hi, my name is Andrew. I’m proud to have worked for Stop Hate UK for 6 years and have had varied roles within the organisation and am currently Partnerships and Contracts Manager; I believe it’s really important to work with other agencies to ensure victims can receive the best support possible.
Central to everything we do at Stop Hate UK are the people who take that, often difficult, first step to tell somebody about the hostility they are facing and the impact it has had on their lives. When somebody does contact us via one of our helplines, our team, who are there throughout the day and night, offer the very best of help – giving service users the time to explain what they have been going through, listen to how they have been affected and discuss what help they need to stop the abuse and allow them to move on from the abuse they have been facing. We discuss the different options that are available to provide support and offer referrals to specialist organisations. Whilst I am sure the direct emotional and practical support we offer is of great assistance to victims, I equally recognise the value of the services offered by partner agencies and how by working together using a holistic approach we can ensure that the best possible support is provided.
So who are the partners we work with and what makes the partnerships work effectively? We work with not only with statutory agencies such as local authorities, the police and Police and Crime Commissioners but also with other national and local voluntary sector agencies, community groups, social housing providers and specialist service providers.
So how do we ensure our partnerships work effectively? Effective partnership working relies on a number of factors:
Having a common objective – This goes back to the essence of why we are all here – we’re here to support victims, families and communities who are affected by discrimination and hostility. Partnership working allows us to concentrate and focus our efforts on specific objectives and outcomes jointly with other agencies who are delivering complementary services.
Understanding partner agencies – Every organisation is different. They have their own vision, aims, unique story and identity, culture, ethos, way of doing things and provide a range of specialisms and services. Different agencies will have differing service delivery targets and funding mechanisms. Also, organisations are made up of people – so it is important to understand the structures in place within partner organisations and the role and remit of key contacts within the organisations. Having this understanding enables us to show respect to other agencies and develop relationships that are constructive and deliver outcomes for victims that allow each organisation to achieve their overall objectives and together provide the support that is needed by people.
Knowing your place in the partnership – Working in partnership is similar to building a jigsaw puzzle; individual organisations, the pieces, are put together and when complete, produce an outcome, effective support for victims that enables them to cope and recover – a picture. When a piece of the jigsaw is missing, for instance – an organisation providing their unique and specialist services, the outcome may not be as good as it could have been. For example, Stop Hate UK could (and do!) provide the very best of reporting and support services via our helplines and dedicated team; but, if we were not able to work with partners delivering specific and specialist services such as – the Police who can investigate incidents, housing providers who can respond to tenant issues, voluntary agencies who can provide ongoing emotional support, advocacy assistance etc. , we would be less likely to provide the victims with outcomes that fully meet their needs.
Trust – Ultimately partnerships rely on trust. An understanding that agencies within the partnership deliver effective services; some partners may be better placed to deliver tailored support to the person who has been affected by Hate Crime than others – other partners need to be willing to refer or signpost on when appropriate. Partners need to be comfortable sharing information to ensure services work effectively and able to have constructive discussions about ways in which individual partners can work better together developing and improving their services further so that service delivery for individual service users is optimised.
So there it is successful partnership working in a nutshell! But, clearly there are pressures that sometimes make things more complicated.
In recent years we have all gone through a period of austerity that has put pressure on organisations; less funding for services leading to fewer staff and in some cases the loss of vital organisations and services. Fewer staff means increased pressure on those remaining – more varied job roles, more work and less time to do it in! Sometimes individual agencies find themselves competing against each other for funding or a higher profile; and sometimes it may feel easier to concentrate on our own core services rather than spend time in meetings with other organisations trying to develop joined up approaches. It’s a viewpoint I guess – but let’s go back to the jigsaw metaphor and ask ourselves “Does my organisation have all the knowledge, skills and abilities, experience, systems, services and time to deliver all the support that a victim of Hate Crime needs?” I know my answer would be no – I and my organisation can play a part, yes we can help – but without other organisations we could never deliver all the outcomes that will help someone truly recover from the impact of hostility.
So can partnership working really work? For us, yes it can. For example, 18 months ago Stop Hate UK were commissioned to provide our Stop Hate Line Service throughout Merseyside. The service is funded by the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) with active support from the Merseyside Criminal Justice Board, their Hate Crime sub-group, Merseyside Police and Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service. In addition to our reporting service, Merseyside Police, the PCC and local authorities across Merseyside have also been active developing and promoting a large number of community based third party reporting centres who signpost people to the helpline. These centres based in housing offices, libraries, museums, local authority offices, fire stations and hospitals. Additionally, funding has been provided to the Anthony Walker Foundation (AWF) to coordinate ongoing advocacy support to victims of Hate Crime. AWF work with other specialist organisations to ensure tailored and holistic support is provided to meet victim’s needs whatever the hate motivation is based on – someone’s disability, faith, gender identity, race, sexual orientation or other aspects of identity. This support is further aided by the referral of cases to multi-agency case review meetings to access assistance from other agencies as appropriate. It is no coincidence to me that, as a result, we have seen a significant increase in reporting both to the Stop Hate Line and direct to the police in Merseyside. Local communities have become more confident reporting incidents and they recognise the coordinated multi-agency activity that is taking place to challenge hostility, increase reporting and support victims.
So, my final thought? When I have to be on a train at 6am in the morning to get to a meeting in a distant part of the country to meet organisations who we work with – do I feel tired? Yes, of course. Is it worthwhile? Yes, of course it is. When those meetings lead to ongoing positive relationships that facilitate joint working to support people who are suffering the impact of discrimination and hostility – it’s a small price to pay!
Hi, my name is Ian and I am the Reporting Analyst at Stop Hate UK. It is my job to collate all the contact data and present it to commissioners and funders in a format that informs about helpline activity but hopefully also enlightens.
I may be responsible for producing the tables and charts, but what drives me are the human stories that sit behind the statistics. For that reason I would like to take this opportunity to explain how I came to be working at Stop Hate UK and how my experiences, particularly within the public sector, have shaped my thinking.
Before joining Stop Hate UK, I served as a police officer for 30 years. I joined in the early 80’s and experienced the racial tensions that sparked disorder across the country and the miner’s strike that were a feature of that time. I am ashamed to say that I was aware of pockets of racial discrimination within the service; mercifully carried out by a small number of individuals but largely unchallenged. The role of police women was seen as secondary and this attitude was reflected in policy and practice towards domestic violence, for example. Tape, and subsequently video, recording of interviews with suspects was a futuristic fantasy and seen by many as unnecessary. Supervision was based on militaristic principles: ‘Don’t ask why I have to jump, just ask how high’, but then ‘It didn’t do me any harm!’
However, it was also a time of significant change for the police service and within a few years it was a totally different working environment; one that required policing and police officers alike to stop and think about the consequences of their collective and individual actions. The murder of Stephen Lawrence was a seminal moment for the police service, and the recommendations within the MacPherson report remain pertinent to this day. The service has continued to change and evolve as a more inclusive and empathetic place to work but it has been a long haul and there is still some way to go in some areas.
I don’t want to sound as if I am somehow ungrateful to my former employers and colleagues because the police service has many more good apples than bad – and it can achieve amazing things when it needs to. There are many colleagues and more senior officers that have inspired me over the years and shaped my thinking and attitude to life probably without knowing it. But it is those early experiences that have the greatest pull on my conscience. For example, being thanked by a black colleague for patrolling with him because his own shift members had refused because of the ‘attention’ he attracted; the female victim of domestic violence who was greeted by a seasoned officer stepping over her prone body to speak to her ‘old man’ about what had happened; another black colleague seeking my help with a case file because it kept getting sent back from his sergeant without any explanation of what was wrong. All these were an affront to my sense of fairness and respect but I didn’t feel able to do anything about it; being white and male I felt part of the problem.
It wasn’t until later in my service, and with a couple of promotions under my belt, that I felt confident enough to make my voice heard. This says more about me than the service of course, as there were many individuals who did stand up and challenge and as a result created an environment within which I could be influential (at least I felt I was!). Towards the end of my time in the police, I was appointed as the diversity lead for the force and had a particular responsibility for tackling Hate Crime. In an attempt to build on the work of my predecessors I recognised that, as a force, we were simply not receiving as many reports of Hate Crime as we should reasonably expect. At that time the force was one of the leaders in re-establishing community based policing; some excellent links had been forged with various communities and minority groups. However, that had inadvertently lead to complacency; it was felt that due to the improving relationship, communities would be confident enough to report matters to us. Of course, this did not take into account the unique nature of Hate Crime in all its forms. Victims of Hate Crime rarely want to ‘make a fuss’ and often minimise what is happening to them so that it simply becomes part of their ‘normality’. Reporting to the police, therefore, is the last thing they would do – worrying that it could lead to reprisals for example – and so continue to suffer in silence.
It was then I came across Stop Hate UK and was impressed by the passion and commitment the organisation showed in tackling Hate Crime. Stop Hate UK’s unique service meant it complemented what was already available in Derbyshire and neatly filled the all too apparent gaps. What set the organisation apart was the 24hr nature of the business; real people not answer phones; the victim centred approach – non-judgmental and with time to listen; the ability to link disparate services for the benefit of the victim; a breadth of ways to access the service – whatever is most appropriate for the victim. These features impressed me and enabled me to find funding to commission the Stop Hate Line service across the county. Those features remain today and in many ways are enhanced (not just because I work for them now!); I‘m pleased to see that the Stop Hate Line is still being used in Derbyshire over 2 years after I retired.
Commissioning of the Stop Hate Line has seen increased reporting and greater awareness of the factors that beset victims of Hate Crime. Statutory and third sector agencies work better together as a result and, most satisfactorily for me, more and more police officers have ‘got it’ and would recognise hate elements without the victim having to raise it and – actively pursue the perpetrators. The time was not without challenges of course; I recall having a heated debate with an experienced detective when I asked for an incident of violence against a person with a learning disability to be marked as a Hate Crime. His view was that ‘we would forever be marking incidents as ‘hate’ because the victim was also a perpetrator and always in trouble with the police. He had failed to make the link that the victim’s learning disability was the reason he was associating with the ‘wrong sort’ and was a key factor in both his offending and victimisation. I am pleased to say he eventually changed his belief, particularly after the CPS prosecutor echoed my arguments, and headed a number of initiatives to increase reporting and recording of Hate Crimes and incidents.
Perhaps the most significant positive impact the Stop Hate Line had within the county was for victims of Disability Hate Crime. The level of reporting Disability Hate Crimes increased and it seemed many people with a disability felt more comfortable using the Stop Hate Line than calling the police. For a long time society has treated disability as a problem and, as a result, attitudes could be aggressive or dismissive at best. I have for a long time been involved with a local Riding for the Disabled group; I have always been affected by the transformation that is often seen – when a child who spends the majority of their time in a wheelchair being literally spoken down to, is suddenly on top of a horse and is now looking down on the world. It is inspiring and at the same time, a sad indictment of society in general. I feel that, in some small way, the Stop Hate Line provided a similar feeling of release for disabled people experiencing Hate Crimes in the county; I hope that doesn’t sound too fanciful but I genuinely believe there is some basis to this thought.
I have rambled on for a while now and not really explained how I eventually came to work for Stop Hate UK. Well simply, an opportunity arose shortly after I had retired and I really felt a need to be part of the team and continue the work I had found worthwhile and rewarding as a police officer. In spite of my horrendous interview technique, I was fortunate to be offered the post of Reporting Analyst! It is a mark of the organisation that the logistical problems, that the place of work and home posed, were so easily resolved. As an employee of Stop Hate UK, I also work on the helpline which is encouraged for all staff and ensures that we all remain focussed on the victim.
I hope you have found my thoughts and experiences interesting at least; perhaps you would like to hear more about statistics, spreadsheets and formulas …………….. oh, where’s everyone gone?!
If you have a job you love, it is said you never have to do a day’s work in your life. Although a cliché, working for Stop Hate UK in my role I would say that is true. As a Helpline Operator, I generally opt to work the ‘graveyard shift’ – working through the night, but the silence of the dawn provides an ideal opportunity to reflect on the issue of hate deeply.
Ask yourself – what must drive a caller to ring Stop Hate UK at 3am when most people are comfortably asleep in their beds. Fear? Anxiety? Worry? Stress? Yes, all of those and many more. Callers who ring the helpline for support and advice may be feeling completely overwhelmed, at breaking point, concerned for their futures and panicking about what the next day will bring. Sometimes I’ll take a call from a person who hasn’t been able to find the strength to tell another soul about their experiences as a victim of hate crime. A person may email us and state that they feel they have exhausted all options and that Stop Hate UK is their last and only option. Many victims are experiencing a confusing mix of emotions; anger, guilt, doubt, helplessness – all of these are understandable and it is normal and valid to feel this way. These types of callers, and all those in between, are reaching out. I’m proud to be able to say that Stop Hate UK can provide a service to these people 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Often we receive feedback that Stop Hate UK is the only service they feel able to seek genuine support from; knowing that we won’t judge or seek to minimize matters, and are completely independent of any other statutory organizations.
You may or may not be surprised to know that my colleagues, who work on the helpline, come from very diverse backgrounds spanning across the equalities strands. Unfortunately, some may have been victims of hate themselves in its varying forms. There can be real barriers to reporting hate crime with a high level of under reporting across most of the hate strands – so to some callers it may make a difference to know that the person who responds to their request for support or advice understands fully. I’m a convert to Islam; with a child on the Autistic Spectrum. I’ve personally been a victim of hate related verbal abuse; have had cigarette butts routinely thrown at me and have had racist graffiti scratched into my front door. I’ve received plenty of comments about my choice of faith and my outward appearance. Clothing in itself cannot be oppressive – but I find being subject to hate and abuse for my choice of clothing highly oppressive, upsetting and disturbing.
My story is not uncommon, and the ways in which people are victimized due to hate-related issues are very diverse; name-calling, vandalism, physical assaults, exclusion, harassment and many more. Much of what we hear from callers is shocking and harrowing, but Stop Hate UK has given me, as an operator, a full and expanding tool-kit of options to suggest and techniques to use to help people who find themselves victims of hate. This enables me to feel confident and well-equipped to support and advise people who contact us across all of the government-recognized hate strands; Disability, Gender Identity, Race, Ethnicity or Nationality, Religion, Faith or Belief and Sexual Orientation. Stop Hate UK would probably wish to expand the categories further, as hate can take a multitude of other forms too; often in ways that manifest from the very subtle up to large institutional level. Because the thing is; hate matters – and Stop Hate UK’s helpline operators genuinely believe this and are committed to challenging hate and discrimination in full. As well as the strands just mentioned we are able to support people who have experienced any kind of hate incident; for example, instances where people believe they have been targeted because of their age or an alternative sub-culture.
A typical shift on the helpline might involve a mixture of contact from callers via the telephone or responding to emails, SMS messages or web-chats. Not generally at the same time but on occasion things can get rather frantic. We’ve tried to remove as many barriers to contact as we can, to encourage access to help and support in as many different ways as possible, to suit peoples own communication preferences. In quieter moments, I tend to check out Stop Hate UK’s Facebook and Twitter pages as this helps me to stay aware of any national or local news related to hate and stay informed of any contentious issues in the media. I’ll also review the crimes and incidents that have been reported to Stop Hate UK over the previous few days. This helps me obtain a general overview, plus keep up to date with regular callers who I might expect to speak to at some point during my shift. These are ‘good practice’ elements of my work and ultimately mean we can provide more informed and accurate advice, but nothing beats Stop Hate UK’s regular exciting training days (the training is good – the food even better!).
Key skills for the job involve being able to calmly communicate with people who may be distressed or vulnerable. It is necessary to extract and record information about incidents and crimes and whilst doing so, act in a professional manner at all times. Great listening skills are needed too, alongside a non-judgmental approach. A lot of what we do involves typing up information onto internal systems to be passed on to the Police or other agencies if the individual requests this (reports can be anonymized too)-so keyboard skills are also a pre-requisite. If you think you have these skills and would like to help, look out for volunteering opportunities on our website.
It is important to outline we do have our limits – and we try to be clear on them as the last thing we would want is to inadvertently give the incorrect advice whilst on shift. I am not a police officer or a solicitor, so I’ll always try and signpost callers with more specific questions to the correct organization where appropriate. We try to adopt a supportive approach, building up quick rapport with callers to help them feel comfortable to discuss the issues they might be facing. I’ve been a helpline operator for four years and would struggle to think of another role which gives such a huge sense of job satisfaction. Stop Hate UK is an organization that I feel really honoured to be part of. Working on the helpline allows us to see, first- hand, the gravity and scale of hate in the UK which is saddening, but the altruistic part of me is happy to know I’m ‘doing my bit’ and trying to make a positive difference. It’s not always easy for people to admit they have been a victim of any sort or seek help, so I always try and reassure people making contact with Stop Hate UK that they have done the right thing – ‘Whatever they call you, call us.’
Clare Humble, 50, from Bedlington, was convicted in 2014 of murdering her disabled partner Peter Hedley in a violent and sustained attack. She was jailed for life last week at Newcastle Crown Court and was told that she will serve a minimum of 20 years in prison. Many views have been expressed about this case by various organisations saying that the murder was not treated as a Disability Hate Crime and if it had been, Humble may have had to serve a minimum of at least 30 years in prison.
It may be that this legal case has highlighted a misapplication of the principles of S.146 which may have resulted in the sentence being unduly lenient – but the truth is we don’t know that this is the case.
Murder is the most serious crime that exists in law but what is lacking in our criminal justice system about Hate Crime is transparency. We believe it is in the public interest that people know on what basis someone has been sentenced. Generally, our system provides for open justice but it is not possible to sit in on every court hearing.
Stop Hate UK therefore call on the Crown Prosecution Service and the Judiciary to routinely make sentencing remarks publicly available in cases of Hate Crime or cases that involve a victim with a protected characteristic.
We believe this is the only way in which members of the public can properly scrutinise whether cases have been properly treated as such.
In our response in 2013 to the Law Commission consultation on extending the existing provisions for Hate Crime offences we called for these changes and I refer the reader to this report particularly paragraph 40, 50 and 73 which are paraphrased here
- Prosecutors should state, from the outset, that they intend to present a case as a S.146 case – or at the earliest opportunity, as the case proceeds.
- We believe this reform should happen regardless of whether a new aggravated offence on the basis of disability is introduced.
We accept that not every crime against a disabled person is based on hostility because of that aspect of their identity. However, we are concerned that too many cases, where the motivating factor is hate based on the victim’s disability, are being considered based on the victim’s apparent vulnerability rather than their disability.
 Section 146 (S.146) Criminal Justice Act 2003. Where the offender has demonstrated hostility because of the victim’s disability or presumed disability or has carried out an act motivated by hostility towards a person’s disability or presumed disability, the court must treat these circumstances as an aggravating factor and must state in open court that the offence was committed in such circumstances.