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CPS Wessex: Successful Hate Crime Cases October 2023

|News, Hate crime

The month of October is a significant time of the year for us. Not only do we celebrate Black History Month, but we are also committed to marking national Hate Crime Awareness Week through internal activities with our staff, and by contributing to community sessions with our criminal justice partners.

This year, as part of our dedication to prosecute all hate crime where our legal test is met, we’ve organised a programme of awareness sessions for our staff in Wessex. The programme included a webinar with Dr. Leah Burch, Senior Lecturer at Liverpool Hope University, on the lived experience of disability hate crime, and a session with the Community Security Trust to learn more about their work to help and support victims of Antisemitic Hate Crime.

In the community, we will be delivering a mock trial at Portsmouth University in partnership with Hampshire and Isle of Wight Constabulary and we have invited local community groups to come and watch a mock hate crime trial. They’ll get to be the jury, deciding on whether the defendant is guilty or not, and will watch a sentencing exercise when the Judge will be invited to apply a sentence uplift.

We’ve also delivered a session in a local Hampshire secondary school where students turned their hands at being Crown Prosecutors. They learned how we prosecute hate crime cases under the Code for Crown Prosecutors, and what support victims of hate crime can expect to receive.

As part of the Hampshire Police and Crime Commissioner’s #shopkind initiative, we joined a drop-in session with local shop workers and security staff in Eastleigh and spoke with them about our work prosecuting hate crimes in recognition that employees can unfortunately all too often be the victims of hate crime. The event was co-ordinated by the Eastleigh Improvement District, also attended by the police and Victim Support, who were able to ask questions and provide information on support for victims.

Another important way that we regularly raise awareness of Hate Crime in our communities is by sharing examples of recently prosecuted cases in our monthly Hate Crime statements. We publish them on our website every month and share them in our Community Newsletter.

If you would like to receive local CPS Wessex news straight into your inbox, you can sign up here.

This month’s cases

Prosecutors from CPS Wessex routinely secure successful outcomes in a variety of hate crime cases across the Magistrates’ and Crown Courts in Dorset, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, and Wiltshire.

Under hate crime legislation, courts must pass an increased sentence where the prosecutor has evidenced that criminal offences either demonstrate or have been motivated by hostility towards a person’s race, religion, disability, transgender identity or sexuality. This is known as a “sentence uplift”.

We’ve picked out a selection of the hate crime cases we’ve prosecuted recently to demonstrate how seriously we take such cases, ensuring that perpetrators are brought to justice and receive increased penalties.

In most hate crime cases prosecuted by CPS Wessex, defendants enter guilty pleas. This means that the case didn’t have to go to trial and victims and witnesses did not need to attend court to give evidence.

All defendants in our case studies below received an increased sentence to reflect the seriousness of the hate crime they had committed.

Case Studies

At Newport Magistrates Court this month, a man pleaded guilty to a public order offence after he shouted homophobic abuse at the victim. He was given a 24-month Community Order, which the court said would have been for a shorter period but for the offence being a hate crime. He was also ordered to complete 15 days of a Rehabilitation Activity Requirement, which in this case was a Building Better Relationships course and fined £100.

In a case prosecuted at Basingstoke Magistrates Court, a man pleaded guilty to breaching a restraining order and a racially aggravated public order offence. The court heard how he was already banned from entering a supermarket, with a restraining order in place, but he entered the shop in breach of the Order and shouted racial abuse at a security guard when challenged. He was sentenced to a total of four months’ imprisonment, with the length of time uplifted from one month to two months in respect of the racially aggravated offence to reflect the seriousness of the hate crime.

In a similar case at Basingstoke Magistrates Court, a man was caught shoplifting by a security guard in a high-street store. When the security guard challenged him, the man shouted racist abuse in return. At court, he pleaded guilty to a racially aggravated public order offence and was sentenced to a 12-month Community Order, which the court said would have been for a shorter period had it not been for the racist language he used. He was also ordered to pay the victim £100 compensation and must complete 100 hours of unpaid work.

At Portsmouth Magistrates Court, a woman pleaded guilty to a racially aggravated assault, shoplifting and possession of drugs after she was found to be shoplifting by a member of staff in a high-street store. The defendant punched the shopworker and used racist language. At sentence, the court activated a suspended sentence she was already subject to and sent her to prison for 12 weeks. Part of her sentence related to the racially aggravated assault, which the court said would be punished by 6 weeks’ imprisonment, increased from four weeks to reflect the seriousness of the hate crime. She was also ordered to pay the victim £100 in compensation.

At Weymouth Magistrates Court this month, a man pleaded guilty to a racially aggravated public order offence after he shouted racist abuse at a police officer whilst being arrested for another matter. At sentence, the court said that had doubled his fine from £50 to £100 because this was a hate crime.

In a case at Bournemouth Crown Court, a woman was prosecuted for racially aggravated harassment after she spat at a taxi driver and used racist language towards him. The case went to trial when she pleaded not guilty, but having heard all of the evidence, she was convicted by a jury. She was fined £300, a figure that the Judge said would have been less had it not been for the racist language that made the case a hate crime.

Further reading

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