There were 289 hate crime prosecutions in Kent between April 2016 and March 2017, new figures from the CPS have revealed.
Of those 247 were convicted -85.5%.
CPS South East, which covers Kent, Surrey and Sussex, has the second highest conviction rate out of 13 CPS areas in the country.
The figures in the CPS hate crime annual report, show that, across the South East, defendants were convicted in 676 out of a total of 767 hate crime cases between April 2016 and March 2017 – an 88.1% conviction rate.
The area had the country’s highest conviction rate for homophobic and transphobic crime at 90.2% and was second in the counrty for convictions of racial and religious hate crime, with a total of 553 out of 624 cases.
For Kent the figures show:
Racial and religious hate crime: 243 cases 209 convictions
Homophobic and Transphobic hate crime: 30 cases and 26 convictions
Older person hate crime: 112 cases and 92 convictions
Defendants responsible for hate crimes motivated ‘wholly or partly’ by hostility based on perceived religion, race, sexual orientation or disability can be given stiffer sentences by the court. These “uplifted” sentences can range from extended prison terms to longer community punishments, depending on the crime.
In the South East in 2016-17, just over 60% of sentences were increased in this way, compared to the national average of 52.2%.
Jaswant Narwal, from the CPS, said: “It is really encouraging to see such a high conviction rate for hate crimes, especially as they are such an appalling type of crime, singling people out for being different, either on the basis of their race, religion, sexual orientation or disability.
“Tackling hate crime is one of the top priorities for the CPS in Kent, Surrey and Sussex and these figures show how our staff are doing everything they can to ensure perpetrators are brought to justice.
“I hope these figures give confidence to anyone who is the victim of a hate crime to come forward and report it, knowing that those responsible are likely to be convicted and punished appropriately.”
Disability hate crime
The conviction rate was lower for disability hate crime, with convictions in just over three quarters of cases – 31 out of a total of 41 cases in the three counties.
For Kent the rate was 16 cases 12 convictions
Jaswant added: “We are concerned about the low level of reporting of disability hate crime in the South East. I find it hard to believe that we only had 41 cases across our whole area in a year. We will be working closely with local community groups and the police over the next year to try and increase levels of reporting.
“Where anyone is experiencing disability hate crime, they should feel able to come forward and report it, knowing they will be supported through the criminal justice process.”
An online support guide specifically for disabled victims and witnesses of crime is available on the CPS website. It was produced with support from organisations that work with disabled people and explains the types of support available and how people can access it. It aims to remove some of the barriers disabled people can face as victims and witnesses.
CPS South East works closely with local community groups and is currently looking for members of the public to join its Local Scrutiny Involvement Panel. If you would be interested, please email SouthEast.Communications@cps.gov.uk
You can report hate crime online, call 101 or visit a police station.
Victim Support on 0300 303 0156
mcch (disability hate crime)