We are pleased to say that Disability Equality North West are seeking two DHC case workers (Disability specialist) required to work predominantly in Central & West Lancashire; some other travel across Lancashire may be needed. The Post-holders base will at Disability Equality’s main office in Preston with opportunity to co locate within Lancashire hubs as and when required.
Following the recent serious dismay we have over the sentencing of the perpetrators of the death of Lee Irving, we have written to the Attorney General asking for a review over the inappropriate sentencing which did not include s146 uplifts.
The CPS and Police did put the case forward as a Disability Hate Crime, but once again the judiciary have significantly failed us. It is not good enough. We need judges to start to understand the impact of their inability to engage with disabled people, and we will be campaigning in every way possible to get real change. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!
The two letters are as below.
Dear Solicitor General
Your support of our process of increasing reporting confidence by disabled people has been greatly welcomed, but whilst the successful work we have done along with police forces and CPS prosecutors in jointly pressing for disability hate crime to be treated as such has been thwarted in most cases by court decision.
So, I am writing from the Disability… Hate Crime Network to ask for your consideration of the increasing concern we have over the all too frequent failure of the court system (in particular the judiciary) to fully understand and implement appropriate sentences for cases of disability hostility.
While we have a list of other cases which have shown failure in sentencing, the recent Lee Irving case resonates in the sentencing failure as while we feel that some of our continual hard work and pressure work has achieved some changes, and confidence to the way the better police forces and CPS regions are charging and prosecuting disability hate crime, we are facing a total and unacceptable brick wall in courts in that the judiciary only seem to consider vulnerability as a cause, which means that disability hate is often not considered as part of a sentence uplift. It is about time that judges were given some real awareness training in what all disability actually means, rather than categorising us all as poor vulnerable victims.
I was pleased to discuss the positive moves on 3rd party reporting to you, so as an important stage in our aims to increase reporting and sensible prosecution of disability hate crime we, Katharine Quarmby, Anne Novis and myself, would ask to meet with you and put our concerns and share some other case outcomes to you at an early part of the New year.
And to the Attorney General
The start of a debate on disability hate crime in the House Yesterday, which mentions the Disability Hate Crime Network and Katharine Quarmby’s survey. It also points out my aims on 3rd party reporting.
This is the full debate as recorded. Its a long read, but an important one.
CPS and Disability Hate Crime
I beg to move,
I congratulate my hon. Friend on securing this important debate. Does he agree that improving the understanding of disability hate crime among prosecutors is an essential step in giving more victims the confidence they need to come forward, as we have seen in other areas?
My hon. Friend is absolutely right, and I will touch on that point a little later.
Does the hon. Gentleman agree that some disabled people need particular support in reporting hate crime and will he join me in paying tribute to Disability Equality North West, which serves both our constituencies and is based just across the river in Preston in my constituency?
The hon. Lady makes a very good point. So many voluntary organisations, charities, local government and other agencies do really good work in this area and it would be helpful to have examples of good practice that we can feed into a national database.
It is a great pleasure to see you in the Chair, Mr Bone. I congratulate the hon. Member for Bootle (Peter Dowd) on securing the debate. It is timely because, as he will know, the CPS is currently consulting on its policy for prosecuting disability hate crime. I am sure that my hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor General will ensure that the Hansard record of this debate is forwarded to the CPS as input to the consultation, so that it can hear the views of hon. Members on both sides of the Chamber and from all parts of the United Kingdom.
Does my right hon. Friend agree that awareness by a victim that they are actually the subject of a hate crime is very important, because in some of these cases the criminal is not a stranger? Does he also agree that campaigns—such as the one by the Lancashire police and crime commissioner, “Say No To Hate”—which raise awareness, are good for everyone because victims have more awareness that they have actually been subject to a hate crime?
My hon. Friend makes a very good point. I will say more later about disability hate crime, particularly against people with learning disabilities. In that respect, raising awareness of what is a hate crime, whether someone has been a victim of it and what they should do as a result is particularly important, and I join my hon. Friend in commending the efforts of her law enforcement bodies locally.
May I say what a joy it is to follow the right hon. Member for Forest of Dean (Mr Harper)? We recall his energies as the Minister for Disabled People and thank him for the good work he put in. It is good to see him here contributing to the debate in a different capacity. It was also a pleasure to hear the hon. Member for Bootle (Peter Dowd) set the scene so well. This subject is close to my heart and to his, and to the hearts of all who are participating in today’s debate.
The hon. Gentleman, my friend from my neighbouring constituency, is making a compelling case. Does he agree that the Government could demonstrate their commitment to tackling hate crime by publishing a response to the Law Commission’s 2014 consultation paper, which considered extending existing offences? We would like to hear from the Solicitor General on that.
I thank the hon. Lady, who is a friend as well, for her intervention. She has outlined the issue clearly, and I hope that the Minister responds to her point.
It is an honour to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Bone. I thank the hon. Member for Bootle (Peter Dowd) for securing the debate. This is one of those special debates where it is easy to find broad consensus, which we should always cherish when we find it.
It is a great pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Bone. It is also a great privilege to speak opposite the Solicitor General for the first time. As a fellow Welsh lawyer, I look forward to speaking opposite him and to our future debates.
I tried hard not to be tempted, but the hon. Gentleman has pushed me too far. I take his point, but the former Chancellor made it clear which people he was talking about. The Government made it clear that people who can work should work. He was not attacking people who cannot work, and I do not think that anyone honestly thought that he was. The Government have been clear that we support people who cannot work, but that we expect those who can work to do so, and not to live off others. That is the point that the former Chancellor was making, and it is a reasonable view that I think would be shared by people across the country.
All I can say is that it is a shame that the Chancellor of the Exchequer did not go on to make that distinction when he made those comments on the “Today” programme, which I was careful to quote precisely and not to paraphrase. I am afraid that such comments, in isolation, can have the effect that I mentioned.
It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Bone. I congratulate the hon. Member for Bootle (Peter Dowd) on securing the debate; I am profoundly grateful to him. He and others who have taken part will know that the issue of disability hate crime has been close to my heart not just as Solicitor General but as a Back-Bench Member of Parliament, and indeed as a parent, for a number of years.
I agree entirely with the point that the Solicitor General is making. Nevertheless, does he accept that there can be situations in which vulnerable people are taken advantage of by confidence tricksters? We should focus on that as well.
I am extremely grateful to the hon. Gentleman for that point. I welcome him warmly to his position and congratulate him on attaining it. It is a pleasure to work with him. He is quite right to talk about “mate crime”. Perhaps such examples highlight one of the deficiencies and inadequacies of using a phrase such as “hate crime” to describe the full panoply of crimes committed against people with disabilities. Mate crime is an insidious way in which perpetrators gain the confidence of often isolated and sometimes rather lonely people, perhaps with a learning disability such as autism, or another disability, and, using the trust they have built up, proceed to abuse it, very often in the form of financial crime, such as fraud, or worse—violence and sexual crime are also covered by the definition of mate crime. That is worse than confidence tricksters; it is an abuse of trust. In my mind, that makes the crime even more serious.
I indicated in my contribution that the figure for prosecutions was down in the past year, and asked whether that was because the police were not giving the issue the focus and priority that they should. If the Minister can answer that now, that would be good, but if not I am happy to wait for a response. Is disability hate crime a priority for the police?
I can give the hon. Gentleman the assurance he seeks. On as many of the questions he asked as possible, I shall outline the measures that are being taken. The mandated package of training—to which I think he referred in a question to me in the main Chamber some months ago—has been delivered through a classroom-based approach, as opposed to using the internet. That is very important. It was a mandated package, so it had to be delivered to all prosecutors, and it was delivered between September last year and January this year. In particular, it incorporated the victim’s perspective and provided support on identifying evidence of hostility in order to obtain those important recorded sentencing uplifts.
Order. I am sorry to interrupt the Solicitor General’s 20-minute speech, but Members will be aware that it is now a courtesy to allow the mover of the motion to wind up the debate.
I am very grateful to you, Mr Bone, for that clarification. I will conclude by saying that for far too long people with disabilities have accepted being treated as second-class citizens. That is why I commend the work of the CPS in tackling the scourge of hate crime and I again thank the hon. Member for Bootle for raising this important issue.
I appreciate the comments of everyone who has participated today; it is an important debate to get out into the open. It is crucial that we push on with this matter and ensure that once an action plan is down on paper— however good or bad those proposals might be—it is put into action; hence my comments to the Minister in relation to some of the points that I raised.
Hate Crime Community Projects
Apply for funding of £25,000 or £50,000 for Hate Crime Community Projects to tackle hate crime.
Hate crimes are crimes that are motivated by hostility on the grounds of race, religion, disability, sexual orientation and gender identity. Hate crimes target an intrinsic part of the victim’s identity and have no place in our society. Providing funding for projects which prevent hate crime is one of the actions included in the UK government’s hate crime action plan.
About the fund
The aim of the fund is to work with affected communities to develop a range of pilot projects to tackle hate crime, by funding the development of innovative projects that support the delivery of the five key aims of the UK Government’s plan for tackling hate crime.
The five key aims are:
1. Preventing hate crime
2. Responding to hate crime in our communities
3. Increasing the reporting of hate crime
4. Improving support for the victims of hate crime
5. Building our understanding of hate crime
The fund allows organisations to support our ambitious programme and to bid for grant funding for specific programmes that help to deliver some of the objectives set out in the Hate Crime Action Plan. Applications for funding will close on 14 October 2016.
The Home Office is seeking to fund projects at two levels of either £25,000 or £50,000.
What are we looking for?
We are looking for motivated and creative community groups or consortia to develop innovative programmes that help to tackle hate crime and issues associated with hate crime. Your programme development must involve stakeholders who are affected by, or are past or potential perpetrators of hate crime.
To find out more please visit https://www.gov.uk/guidance/preventing-hate-crime-funding-for-community-projects or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Hate Crime Community Projects Team
Search for “Hate crime network” and the result reduced down to 9, add the word “National” and it whittles the number down to 1 – linking to a person who facilitates a National Hate Crime Network – but not any groups on LinkedIn.
I think we have been missing an opportunity here.
I am surprised that there isn’t an established Hate Crime Network group on LinkedIn – how can that be with all the work that is going on? Looking at the hate crime strands; Disability network produces 1,883 results, Faith 1,022 results, Race network produces 76,831 results, LGBT network produces 291 results, Trans network produces 31,186 results.
So I have set up this UK Hate Crime Network group on LinkedIn – because I want to work with you to change the findings found above. I believe that such a group would be really useful to a lot of people working within the hate crime sector – an opportunity to share information, understandings and good practice.
In the Lancaster Guardian today :- 10:33 Thursday 28 May 2015
Lancashire Constabulary has been praised for its approach towards disability hate crime in a joint inspection report which recognised the force for areas of good practice.
The report comes as part of the joint review by HMIC, HMCPSI and HMI Probation of “Living in a different world: A joint review of Disability Hate Crime” that made seven recommendations for police, CPS and probation trusts.
Lancashire was one of six police forces visited as part of the inspections.
Whilst the report highlighted that further progress needs to be made nationally around, the reporting, investigation and prosecution of hate crime, Lancashire was highlighted for certain areas of good practice.
A bespoke five and a half hour training package on hate crime that has been developed by the force was highlighted as one such area.
The training has been delivered to 85% of front-line staff including response officers, neighbourhood teams, PCSOs, Public Enquiry Assistants and to staff who take emergency and non-emergency calls in the constabulary’s contact management centre.
The training focused particularly on disability hate crime, an area that has been recognised as having unique characteristics, and how to identify such crimes and the range of special measures available for vulnerable victims.
Another area of good practice was the approach to third party reporting, which has been developed in conjunction with the Disability Hate Crime Network, in which instances of disability hate crime are reported via third parties and then forwarded to the police. The report also highlighted a 195% increase since 2011-12 to 2013-14 in the number of disability hate crimes reported to the Constabulary.
Hate Crime lead for Lancashire Police, Chief Superintendent Stuart Noble, said: “We are committed to tackling all crime motivated by hostility and prejudice and we would urge anyone who has been a victim of a hate crime to have the confidence to come forward and report it to police.”
Clive Grunshaw, Lancashire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “I’m pleased that the report recognises how seriously hate crime is taken in Lancashire and this due to the efforts of the constabulary and my office.
“Lancashire is a diverse community, which is part of what makes it such a brilliant place to live and work.”