Progress made ensuring disabled victims get access to justice
The report published today by Her Majesty’s Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate (HMCPSI) and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) reviews the progress made since the last update, published in 2015, on the 2013 joint report: Living in a Different World. The 2015 update was critical of the lack of progress in implementing the recommendations from the 2013 report.
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In contrast, the latest report highlights some significant improvements in handling cases involving disability hate crime. There are also signs that the number of cases being identified correctly as hate crimes are increasing, and there has been an increase in the number of successful applications for sentence uplifts due to cases containing elements of disability hate crime.
While praising the work already done, the report makes recommendations to further improve performance. These include recommendations regarding the identification and investigation of cases involving disability hate crime, and of the coordination of work between the police and CPS in these matters. It is also recommended that a number of changes are made to better highlight and explain cases to the court and defence where an increase in sentencing is required due to the offence being motivated wholly or in part by hostility towards a disability.
Although the report recorded high levels of referral to victim support services and compliance with the Victims’ Code of practice, it was also identified that more could be done to assess and support the needs of victims when attending court and giving evidence.
Commenting on the report, HMCPSI Chief Inspector Kevin McGinty said:
“I am pleased to be able to report significant improvements in the way Disability Hate Crime cases are being handled by the CPS. Although there are still areas where improvement is needed, this report shows that the CPS is in a far better place than when we looked at this matter in 2015.”
HMI Wendy Williams of HMICFRS said:
“We are seeing some positive signs of victim care, including better compliance with the victim’s code of practice. However some police forces are still not routinely identifying disability hate crimes to the CPS. This is a basic requirement. And in the case files we looked at, more than half of disability hate crime cases were not good enough.
“In our July report into all forms of hate crime, we identified the need for police forces to improve on the service they give to victims of this pernicious crime.”
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- The inspection examined more than 150 court and police files from across the regional CPS Areas. Fieldwork included speaking with prosecutors, Area hate crime co-ordinators and Inclusion and Community Engagement Managers.
- HMICRFS also published their own report, Understanding difference: the police’s initial response to hate crime, earlier this year.