Joint Inspection of the Handling of Cases Involving Disability Hate Crime

Date of publication
09 October 2018
Inspection
Participating inspectorates
HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate
HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services
Area
England and Wales

Inspectors from HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate (HMCPSI) worked with their counterparts from HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) to analyse the handling of disability hate crime cases by the police and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). This follows the 2013 joint report Living in a Different World, and its subsequent progress report in 2015.

The report highlights some significant improvements. These include an increase in disability hate crime being flagged on the CPS case management system. On the other hand the report also reveals some areas where more still needs to be done by the police and prosecutors particularly when dealing with victims of disability hate crime.

Inspectors found that the CPS guidance on disability hate crime is clear, although prosecutors do not always comply with what is required, particularly in the quality of the reviews prior to charge and post-charge. The findings suggest that more could be done with assessment of the victim’s needs, particularly with court attendance and giving evidence. However, compliance with the Code for Crown Prosecutors in disability hate crime cases is excellent, which means that the correct cases are being progressed through the criminal justice system.

The level of ambition for sentence uplifts was achieved by all CPS Areas in the 12 months to December 2017 and the positive trend continued. The CPS Area Hate Crime Co-ordinator and Inclusion and Community Engagement Manager roles were seen as positive in furthering the improvements with disability hate crime cases.

Findings also revealed that the police need to do more with respect to investigation and victim care. More than half the cases examined by HMICFRS required improvement. Issues involved failing to flag cases as disability hate crime on police force systems and failing to refer cases to the CPS in accordance with the guidelines. Inspectors found there were delays in the investigation process and lack of effective supervision of cases. Risk assessments were missing in a large number of cases sampled and risk management plans were not always put into place. Despite some of these shortfalls, referral to a Victim Support service and compliance with the Victims’ Code of Practice scored well.

Inspectors also found that the use of special measures and intermediaries to aid the giving of evidence fell short of expectations, as did the standard of letters sent to victims when cases were stopped or charges significantly altered. Findings were more positive with respect to prosecutors speaking to witnesses at court, but there appeared to be gaps in the information provided.

This inspection makes a number of recommendations including:

  • improvement in the identification and flagging of hate crime cases by both the police and CPS;
  • improvements in the investigation stage by police;
  • a better system of allowing the police to highlight cases to the CPS as disability hate crime during the charging advice stage;
  • improvement in the provision of rational to increase sentencing for crimes identified as disability hate crime (s.146 sentence uplift);
  • a change in the application used by prosecutors in court to enable them to check the box which reflects cases to be marked as ones where the s.146 application has been applied;
  • undertake negotiations with HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) to ensure that records of previous sentences for defendants convey the portion of the sentence that was subject to a sentence uplift; and
  • better compliance with the requirement to send an s.146 sentence uplift letter to the court and defence.

The inspection examined 136 CPS finalised magistrates’ court and Crown Court files. A further 41 cases were examined where the CPS had directed no further action at the charging stage. The files were selected from each of the 14 geographical CPS Areas and CPS Direct, which provides charging advice. In addition, HMICFRS inspectors examined the counterpart police files in 42 of the cases examined by HMCPSI, which comprised of files from six police forces. HMICFRS also examined a number of files from the six police forces which comprised of cases where the police decided to take no further action without referring the case to the CPS. Fieldwork included speaking with prosecutors, Area Hate Crime Co-ordinators and Inclusion and Community Engagement Managers.

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