August 21st 2017
On the same day that Get Safe Online launches its awareness campaign on safe and responsible use of social media, The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has published new public statements on how it will prosecute hate crime and support victims in England and Wales.
Amid rising volumes of reports to police, the CPS consulted community groups and criminal justice partners to produce these revised statements, covering the different strands of hate crime: racist and religious; disability; and homophobic, biphobic and transphobic.
In addition to the public statements, the CPS has also today published revised legal guidance that sets out how prosecutors should make charging decisions and handle these cases in court.
– In recognition of the growth of hate crime perpetrated using social media, a commitment to treat online crime as seriously as offline offences, while taking into account the potential impact on the wider community as well as the victim.
– For the first time, CPS policy will acknowledge that victims of biphobic hate crime have different experiences and needs to victims of homophobic and transphobic offences.
– The CPS recognises it has a responsibility to actively remove barriers to justice for disabled victims and witnesses, ensuring they get the right support to enable them to give their best evidence.
– The CPS is marking the publication of the documents with the launch of a social media campaign – #HateCrimeMatters – to encourage people to come forward and report hate crime incidents.
– It is also publishing an online support guide specifically for disabled victims and witnesses of crime.
Director of Public Prosecutions Alison Saunders, shown here, said: "Hate crime has a corrosive effect on our society and that is why it is a priority area for the CPS. It can affect entire communities, forcing people to change their way of life and live in fear.
"These documents take account of the current breadth and context of offending to provide prosecutors with the best possible chance of achieving justice for victims. They also let victims and witnesses know what they should expect from us.
‘’I hope that, along with this week's campaign, they will give people the confidence to come forward and report hate crime, in the knowledge that they will be taken seriously and given the support they need."
In May this year, the Home Affairs Select Committee issued a report damning social networks for lack of responsibility when it comes to tackling illegal and dangerous content.
A hate crime is an offence where the perpetrator is motivated by hostility or shows hostility towards the victim's disability, race, religion, sexual orientation or transgender identity.