Rise in disability, homphobic and transphobic hate crime prosecutions in Kent

Hate crime prosecutions on the rise

The volume of homophobic and transphobic hate crime dealt with by prosecutors in Kent increased from 38 cases in 2017/18 to 62 in 2018/19.

Disability hostility crime has also seen a rise, with 31 cases prosecuted in 2018/19, a 40% increase on the previous year which saw 19 cases.

The figures have been published in the annual Crown Prosecution Service hate crime report. The data also shows an 83.9% conviction rate in Kent.

Hate crimes are where either hostility is demonstrated at the time of the offence or where the crime is motivated ‘wholly or partly’ by hostility based on perceived religion, race, sexual orientation or disability.

Defendants responsible for hate crimes can be given stiffer sentences by the court.  The aggravated sentences can range from extended prison terms to longer community punishments, depending on the crime. During 2018-19, 71.2% of all hate crime convictions in Kent received such an increase in sentence.

Frank Ferguson from the CPS said: “Hate crimes are particularly appalling, because they target someone for who they are, be it their race, disability, sexuality, transgender identity or religion.

“They also spread fear within communities when they happen, which is why tackling hate crime is one of our priorities.

“Within Kent, Surrey and Sussex, almost nine in ten hate crime prosecutions result in convictions. These figures should help to give confidence to anyone who is a victim of a hate crime to come forward and report what has happened to them.

“In particular, we want to encourage anyone who is targeted because of their disability, as we know this often goes unreported, despite the increased levels of cases we’re seeing in Kent. In 2018/19, there were just 50 disability hate crime prosecutions across the whole of Kent, Surrey and Sussex.

“The feedback we hear from those who represent people with disabilities is that abuse, be it online, verbal or physical, is common and we are working closely with those groups and individuals to understand the barriers to reporting disability hate crime and how we can support victims who do come forward.”

In addition to calling the police, anyone who experiences or witnesses hate crime can report it using the True Vision website. Kent Police also offers an online hate crime reporting service through their website.

CPS South East is currently looking for additional members to join the panel, who have a background in representing people affected by, or lived experiences of, issues related to hate crime – disability, racial, religious, homophobic, transphobic and biphobic. You will need to be available for two days per year and able to travel to offices in Brighton, Canterbury or Guildford.

The CPS is particularly interested in hearing from representatives from the black and ethnic minority (BAME) community or faith communities. If you would be interested in joining the panel email madeline.denny@cps.gov.uk

Kent figures

Hate crime against older people

Kent prosecutions 118. convitions 92, unsuccessful 26

Disability hate crime

31 prosecutions,  23 successful and 8 unsuccessful

Homophobic and transphobic hate crime

62 prosecutions, 53 convictions, 9 unsuccessful

Racially and religiously aggravated hate crime

268 prosecutions, 227 convictions, 41 unsuccessful