The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has launched a Disability Hate Crime Action Plan as new figures reveal the number of people convicted for such crimes fell in the past year.
The proportion of successful outcomes of disability hate crime cases for 2012/13 increased from 77.2% to 81.9%, but the number of convictions fell from 494 to 470, according to figures from the CPS. There was also an increase in the rate of decisions to charge for disability hate crime from 72.4% to 80%.
To address this, the action plan includes a commitment to improve how the CPS identifies and records elements of disability hate crime; assures that cases are identified and prosecuted correctly; and provides prosecutors with new tools for the job. The plan recognises that disability hate crime has unique features, which include violence and verbal abuse but also more insidious or exploitative offending.
Key actions in the Disability Hate Crime Action Plan include:
• Disability hate crime can be more difficult to identify than other forms of hate crime, as it often comes in the form of exploitation or crimes committed by those pretending to befriend the victim. The CPS has, and are introducing more, training and guidance for prosecutors to ensure this incorporates the full range of offending
• CPS wants to improve the experience of victims of disability hate crime, so has been conducting detailed research to ensure that victims’ experiences are improved and that prosecutors have all the resources they need to recognise, and prosecute, cases of disability hate crime.
Overall, the number of convictions across all hate crimes – disability, racial, homophobic and transphobic and religious – rose in 2012/13 from 10,794 to 11,915 and the hate crime conviction rate also increased from 82.6% to 84.7%.
Alison Saunders, director of public prosecutions, said: “It is very reassuring to see that the hard work and effort we have undertaken to improve our performance on hate crime has seen such positive results.
“Of course, I recognise that there is more to do, especially around disability hate crime. Whilst I’m delighted to see a record high conviction rate and that the rate of cases we are charging is up to 80% from 72.4% last year, we will be working hard with the police to encourage more disability hate crime cases to be referred to us, and we will be really focusing on our handling of these cases through the court system. I am doing this through our new Disability Hate Crime Action Plan, which addresses where we must improve our handling of disability hate crime cases.
“Hate crimes can be particularly devastating to victims who have been targeted simply because of their race, their religion, their sexuality, gender, disability or age. These crimes display an ugly element of our society and one which it is very important that police and prosecutors feel empowered to tackle so they can bring offenders to justice.”