Hate Crime: Prosecutions

Attorney General written question – answered on 9th January 2018.

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Photo of Lord Pearson of Rannoch Lord Pearson of Rannoch UKIP

To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the answer by Baroness Vere of Norbiton on 6 December (HL Deb, col 1050), whether the definition of hate crime adopted by the Crown Prosecution Service to facilitate the reporting of incidents is wider than the legal definition of such crime under the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 and the Criminal Justice Act 2003; if so, how; and upon what authority it was issued.

Photo of Lord Keen of Elie Lord Keen of Elie The Advocate-General for Scotland, Lords Spokesperson (Ministry of Justice)

The flagging definition for hate crime was agreed between the CPS and the NPCC (ACPO as it was then) in 2007. It is wider than the definition set out in legislation to ensure that all relevant cases are captured.

The flagging definition comes from the recommended definition in the Macpherson report published in 1999 as a result of the inquiry into the murder of Stephen Lawrence. The Macpherson report recommended that ‘this definition should be universally adopted by the Police, local Government and other relevant agencies’.

This recommendation in the Macpherson report was welcomed by the Government at the time and the current Government remains in support of this position. The CPS has worked with police to implement the recommended definition across all strands of hate crime. The CPS takes tackling hate crime seriously and recognises the need to increase public confidence to report. The flagging definition is important in achieving this aim.

In order for a crime to be charged and prosecuted as a hate crime, the CPS uses the legal definitions contained in the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 (CDA 1998) and the Criminal Justice Act 2003 (CJA 2003). This means that not every incident that the victim or another person has perceived to be a hate crime will actually be a hate crime in law.

The CPS legal guidance recognises the potential impact of prosecutions on Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights (the right to freedom of expression). The CPS must balance the rights of an individual to freedom of speech against the duty of the state to act proportionately and to protect the rights of others.

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