Hate Crime

Attorney General – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 21st July 2016.

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Photo of Bob Blackman Bob Blackman Conservative, Harrow East 12:00 am, 21st July 2016

What recent discussions he has had with the Director of Public Prosecutions on the prosecution of hate crime.

Photo of Andrew Stephenson Andrew Stephenson Conservative, Pendle

What recent discussions he has had with the Director of Public Prosecutions on the prosecution of hate crime.

Photo of Robert Buckland Robert Buckland The Solicitor-General

I discuss this matter regularly with the DPP, and the Government will publish their hate crime strategy very shortly.

Photo of Bob Blackman Bob Blackman Conservative, Harrow East

I thank my hon. and learned Friend for his answer. Given the terrible terrorist atrocities in Nice, Paris and, recently, Germany, many people in this country are fearful that because of their religion or the colour of their skin, they will be the subject of hate crime. What assurances can my hon. and learned Friend give to those people that we will prosecute, to the full extent of the law, anyone involved in hate crime?

Photo of Robert Buckland Robert Buckland The Solicitor-General

I pay tribute to my hon. Friend for the community work he does in his constituency. Hate crime of any kind, whether it is on the grounds of disability, race, religion, sexual orientation or transgender identity, has absolutely no place in our society. We are utterly committed to tackling hate crime.

Photo of Andrew Stephenson Andrew Stephenson Conservative, Pendle

A Member of the other place recently received a vile racist letter containing white powder, as did a number of mosques and Islamic centres representing a large Pakistani heritage community in Pendle. The long-term rise in Islamophobia is a serious concern. Will my hon. and learned Friend join me in condemning these racist incidents and advise me whether he believes that the separate recording of Islamophobia as a hate crime is likely to help to bring about successful prosecutions?

Photo of Robert Buckland Robert Buckland The Solicitor-General

The incident that my hon. Friend describes is despicable and shameful, and we must stand together against such hate crime and ensure that it is stamped out. Religious hate crime has been recorded separately since April of this year, at the request of the Prime Minister in her former role as Home Secretary. That will give us a greater understanding of the nature of hate crime.

Photo of Christina Rees Christina Rees Labour, Neath

Reports of hate crimes rose exponentially—by 57%—following Brexit. Is the Solicitor General confident that the Crown Prosecution Service is adequately resourced to deal effectively with these reports and support victims?

Photo of Robert Buckland Robert Buckland The Solicitor-General

The hon. Lady is right to note the alarming spike in incidents of hate crime that surrounded the recent referendum and the weeks subsequent to it. I reassure her that the CPS remains absolutely committed to prosecuting all types of such crime, which, frankly, have no place in our society.

Photo of Paula Sherriff Paula Sherriff Labour, Dewsbury

Three weeks ago, I asked the former Prime Minister, and he agreed, to look into setting up a cross-party commission on hate crime following a sharp increase, as yesterday’s statistics revealed. Can the Solicitor General assure the House that that will be achieved as a priority? Will he offer his full support to my West Yorkshire cross-party initiative to tackle these terrible acts?

Photo of Robert Buckland Robert Buckland The Solicitor-General

I pay tribute to the hon. Lady, who speaks with eloquence and passion on these issues. Of course, I give her my full support with regard to the cross-party initiative in West Yorkshire. The former Prime Minister was right to emphasise that it is up to all of us, whichever side of politics we come from, to come together to tackle this scourge. We know what it can lead to, and therefore we have to stamp it out before it becomes something even more vile.