A review of current legislation is currently underway which could have the potential to bring about positive changes.

This consultation paper is due to be published in 2020.

So what are the current issues?

Information/data is held for hate crimes for five protected characteristics:

  • disability

  • transgender

  • status

  • race

  • religion

  • sexual orientation

Unfortunately criminal law does not treat all of those protected characteristics equally.

An example of this: meaning someone who is assaulted based on gender is not provided the same protection as an individual assaulted because of their disability.

These crimes are as we know are acts of violence or hostility directed at individuals because of who they are.

How does the law respond to hate crime?

Currently the law responds in 4 different ways:

1. Whereby additional “aggravated” offences with longer sentences in the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 if an offender demonstrated hostility or was motivated by hostility based on race or religion.

2. Prohibiting conduct that is likely to stir up hatred on grounds of race, or intended to do so on grounds of religion or sexual orientation in the Public Order Act 1986

3. Enhanced sentencing under sections 145 and 146 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 if hostility is motivated by any of the five protected characteristics.

4. The provision of Sentencing guidelines. Section 125(1) of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 requires that a sentencing judge must follow any sentencing guideline which is relevant to their case. This includes, for example, consideration of whether the offence was motivated by racial or religious hostility, or if it was motivated by or demonstrated hostility towards the victim based on one or more of a number of such as the victims’ age, sex, gender identity (or presumed gender identity), disability (or presumed disability) or sexual orientation.

There is concern about whether a sufficient range of characteristics are protected by current legislation. examples include: is the response adequate to hostility based on an individuals sex or gender (with misogyny being a particular concern), age, physical characteristics, or membership of specific sub-cultures?

In 2014 a report was published and one of the recommendations to come from that was a full-scale review of the aggravated sentences and the enhanced sentencing system be conducted.

Professor David Ormerod QC, Law Commissioner said:

“Our project will ensure that the criminal law provides consistent and effective protection against those who commit crimes demonstrating hatred.

We are pleased to have this opportunity to identify more effective ways of tackling hate crime in all its forms.”

In 2018 Lucy Frazer MP, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice announced the review, the project reviews the adequacy and parity of protection offered by the law relating to hate crime and will make recommendations for its reform. there will also be considerations into which characteristics deserve enhanced protection in criminal law and on what basis.

Let us hope that this review brings about the reforms needed for individuals and a wider scope of protection.

Source: The Law Commission Reforming the Law – “Hate Crime”


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