A WEEK-LONG campaign has been launched to help make people more aware of the consequences of hate crimes.
The Crown Prosecution Service is spending this week talking about how to combat the offences and what you should do if you are victim of a hate crime.
Prosecutors in the Wessex area, which includes Hampshire, the Isle of Wight, Dorset and Wiltshire, are supporting the #HateCrimeMatters message.
In the three months between April and June this year 91 per cent of hate crimes prosecuted in Wessex led to a conviction.
Joanne Jakymec, chief crown prosecutor for CPS Wessex, said: ‘Being targeted because you are perceived as being different can be devastating and it can have a long lasting effect on the lives of those who are the victims of such appalling crimes.
‘As part of #HateCrimeMatters we want focus on those crimes, which often have a disproportionate impact on the victim because they are being targeted for a personal characteristic or a perceived difference.’
Being targeted because you are perceived as being different can be devastating and it can have a long lasting effect on the lives of those who are the victims of such appalling crimes.Joanne Jakymec
For the April-June period, the conviction rate in Wessex for racist or religiously aggravated offences was 93.3 per cent, while for homophobic and transphobic offences the rate was 82.1 per cent.
Ms Jakymec added: ‘At court we make clear representations to draw the court’s attention to consider whether the offence should be classified aggravated because the defendant was motivated by hostility or prejudice based on the complainant’s difference.
‘The CPS takes hate crime cases very seriously and we work very closely with our criminal justice partners to tackle this odious crime.
‘In Wessex our hate crime conviction rate is 91 per cent, however we are mindful not to be complacent, and our prosecutors remain dedicated to bring offenders before the court.
‘We hope that this week’s campaign will encourage victims to come forward.’
Last year, more than half of CPS requests nationally led to offenders having their sentence increased because it was motivated by hate.
If you have seen, heard or experienced a hate crime report it to police on 101 or 999, or contact stophateUK.org.
Hate crime accused has sentence increased
A 31-YEAR-OLD man from Portsmouth was sentenced to eight weeks in jail after pleading guilty to a racially aggravated public order offence.
Ross McFarlane appeared at Portsmouth Magistrates’ Court on August 5 after an incident outside a store in Winston Churchill Avenue on July 5.
McFarlane, who was intoxicated with alcohol, became involved in an altercation with a shop worker, who was originally from the Ivory Coast.
James Burnham, hate crime coordinator for CPS Wessex, said: ‘This case was a clear example where a defendant chose to use deliberately hurtful and abusive racist language towards a shop employee, who was simply doing his job, for no other reason than to cause offence.
‘The victim said McFarlane verbally abused him in a very hostile manner, which he found highly offensive and said that “it was a hurtful and personal attack, which has made him feel angry.”
‘The victim added that it was the first time he had encountered a racist attack since he had come to the UK. He enjoyed the freedom that living in Britain gives him to be fully himself.’
After a CPS appeal the original six-week sentence was increased to eight.
McFarlane was also ordered to pay £50 to the victim.