There has been a steady increase in the number of convictions for hate crimes in the UK in the last four years.
A new report shows that the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) is prosecuting more hate crimes, more successfully and with more defendants pleading guilty than ever before.
"All crime is unacceptable but offences that are driven by hostility or hatred based on personal characteristics are particularly damaging to any civilised society,” said Keir Starmer QC, the Director of Public Prosecutions. "I am particularly pleased that the number of guilty pleas is increasing as this demonstrates that our prosecutors are building stronger cases. The increase in guilty pleas benefits the victims of these crimes, many of whom would find giving evidence a stressful ordeal.”
The Hate crimes and crimes against older people report 2010-11 by the CPS shows that outcomes in cases of hate crime continue to improve. “We should be proud of the work we have done to secure this significant increase but I am determined that we build on this success," Mr. Starmer said.
In 2008-09, there were 9,035 guilty pleas out of a total of 10,690 convictions and 13,030 prosecutions overall relating to hate crime.
In 2009-10 this went up to 9,700 guilty pleas, 11,405 convictions and 13,921 prosecutions. In 2010-11 there were 10,823 guilty pleas out of 12,651 convictions and 15,284 prosecutions overall.
For the first time in this report, the CPS also collected religiously and racially aggravated crime separately. Of the 12,711 race-related offences prosecuted in 2010-11, 83.1 per cent were successful. The CPS was successful in 472 out of 565 cases motivated by religious hatred, a success rate of 83.4 per cent.
Recently three men in Derby received prison sentences for stirring up hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation. Ihjaz Ali, Kabir Ahmed and Razwan Javed distributed leaflets calling for the death of homosexuals. At the time, Sue Hemming, Head of Special Crime at the CPS said: "Everyone has a right to be protected by the law and we regard homophobic crimes, along with all hate crimes, as particularly serious because they undermine people's right to feel safe."
Commenting on the sentencing of the three men, Mr. Starmer said: “This was the first case of its kind in British legal history and a significant step forward for us in protecting the LGBT community.”
He added: "The CPS has an important part to play in tackling racism and religious hatred in our society and ignorance of disability, and I am encouraged by these statistics that we are on a firm footing to continue that fight.”
The fourth annual report from the CPS has for the second time continued to include crimes against older people for analysis.
Although there is no statutory definition of a crime against an older person, prosecutors are now able to identify these cases and analysis of these initial statistics show referrals from police have risen year on year.
Mervyn Kohler, of Age UK said: "The rate of successful prosecutions involving crimes against older people is encouraging, and the process of identifying, recording and flagging a crime against an older person is robust. The escalating crime numbers are more likely to reflect the growing (and welcome) sophistication of the police and the CPS in this field, rather than signal a systemically ageist society."