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Hate Crimes: Prosecution Rate

Attorney General – in the House of Commons on 16th January 2020.

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Photo of Bob Blackman Bob Blackman Conservative, Harrow East

What steps the CPS is taking to improve the prosecution rate for hate crimes.

Photo of Sally-Ann Hart Sally-Ann Hart Conservative, Hastings and Rye

What steps the CPS is taking to improve the prosecution rate for hate crimes.

Photo of Michael Ellis Michael Ellis The Solicitor-General

The CPS is committed to tackling hate crime, working closely with partners across government under the hate crime action plan. The CPS has trained its prosecutors, drawing on expertise and insight from key community groups, and has established national and local scrutiny panels to inform decision making. As a result, last year the number of convictions for hate crimes with a recorded sentence uplift increased to 73.6%, the highest rate yet.

Photo of Bob Blackman Bob Blackman Conservative, Harrow East

I thank my right hon. and learned Friend for that answer. Antisemitism and hate crimes are on the rise right across this country. What further action can he take to make sure that the perpetrators are brought to justice and we eliminate hate crime forever?

Photo of Michael Ellis Michael Ellis The Solicitor-General

I thank my hon. Friend for that question. He is right to be concerned about this issue. The rise in antisemitism is significant. One thing that has been happening is that mandatory hate crime training for the CPS has been developed, with community involvement, including that of the Community Security Trust. That has been delivered, and the CPS has refreshed a guide for lawyers on antisemitism, with the assistance of that trust. The guide includes key aspects of the law and victim support. We must do everything we can to stamp out this scourge of antisemitism.

Photo of Sally-Ann Hart Sally-Ann Hart Conservative, Hastings and Rye

I thank my right hon. and learned Friend for his response. The internet has hugely positive values, but it can allow the spread of hate crime behind a veil of anonymity. What steps is his Department taking to ensure that crime online attracts and is subject to the same penalties in law as offline crime?

Photo of Michael Ellis Michael Ellis The Solicitor-General

The proportion of hate crime convictions with an announced and recorded sentence uplift has increased from just 12.1% in 2014 to 73.6% now. My hon. Friend is right about online instances of hate crime, and the hate crime conviction rate has also increased in the past decade significantly. It now stands at 84%, but we are continuing to work on dealing with the issue of hate crime online.

Photo of Peter Kyle Peter Kyle Labour, Hove

Overall prosecutions have fallen from a quarter to only one in 10. Why is the CPS prosecuting so few people for hate crime? Why is the number of prosecutions falling, not rising? Is that not deterring people from reporting hate crime in the first place?

Photo of Michael Ellis Michael Ellis The Solicitor-General

There is considerable evidence that people are particularly concerned about hate crime, and I do not think they are being put off making complaints to the police about that. We are constantly liaising at the Crown Prosecution Service with local police forces about their conduct, and we focus very much on getting results in instances of hate crime. As I have said, the number of convictions for hate crime has increased to its highest ever level.[This section has been corrected on 20 January 2020, column 2MC — read correction]

Photo of Jim McMahon Jim McMahon Shadow Minister (Housing, Communities and Local Government) (Devolution)

There is no doubt that the rise of Islamophobia is causing real concern and fear in the community, and particularly in the community that I represent in Oldham. The online platforms have been allowed to self-regulate for far too long. It would be easy for them to have a simple “report it once” button that automatically feeds through to the police. Will the Government do far more to make sure that victims are protected and that we raise the tone of the debate in our politics?

Photo of Michael Ellis Michael Ellis The Solicitor-General

The hon. Gentleman is right to focus on this issue. The issue of Islamophobia is of particular concern, as are all forms of hate crime. We see examples of cases in this area being robustly prosecuted throughout the country, and likewise we see examples of courts recognising the seriousness of these offences with exemplary sentences. The sentencing tribunal has noted that such sentences have been increased because of the Islamophobic or antisemitic element, or because of elements relating to other areas of hate crime. That is right and should be a warning to all.