The Solicitor General, Robert Buckland QC MP has attended a hate crime co-ordinators meeting at the Police College in Ryton
The meeting brings together representatives from the Crown Prosecution Service and the Police in order to share best practice in the investigation and prosecution of hate crime and discuss recent legal and policy developments in the area.
The Solicitor General addressed the meeting on the specific issue of disability hate crime, saying:
Since first being appointed as HM Government’s Solicitor General last year, improving the way in which disability hate crime is reported, investigated and prosecuted has been one of my top priorities.
There needs to be recognition that disability hate crime has a unique position and requires careful treatment simply to ensure that it is on an equal footing to the other hate crimes.
In our push for improved results, we must not lose sight of the experiences of those directly affected by disability hate crime. Only by understanding their perspectives and listening to their needs can there be meaningful change.
In March 2012, the Government published its Action Plan to Tackle Hate Crime which highlighted the need to reduce hate crime and protect victims.
In May 2014, the Crown Prosecution Service released a Hate Crime Strategy. It is now developing a mandatory training programme for all prosecutors on disability hate crime which will be rolled out from Autumn 2015.
The College of Policing has also published hate crime operational guidance for officers.
The Crime Survey for England and Wales estimated that 62,000 disability motivated hate crimes were committed in 2013-2014. Under legislation, courts are obliged to impose an uplift in sentence for crimes where an offender has demonstrated a hostility towards a victim based on a disability or a presumed disability.
The Solicitor General’s speech precedes Hate Crime Awareness Week commencing on 12 October and a ministerial round table on disability hate crime taking place later in the month. The roundtable comes amid work to refresh the cross-Government Hate Crime Action Plan.