UK

Hate crime: Prosecutors told to push for tougher sentences

A police officer Image copyright PA

Prosecutors will be urged to push for tougher sentences for people committing hate crimes, following a rise in incidents after the EU referendum.

A £2.4m fund will also be set up for security measures at places of worship.

A rise in reported hate crimes following the Brexit vote has prompted concerns about a wave of xenophobic and racial abuse.

The Home Office said its action plan aimed to encourage people to report offences and boost support for victims.

Prosecutors will be issued with fresh guidance on racially and religiously aggravated offences.

They will also be encouraged to push for tougher sentences by urging courts to use existing powers to increase penalties in hate crime cases.

It is hoped this will improve confidence in the CPS's response to such crimes and in turn, boost reporting rates.

The Home Office said it will also be targeting work to prevent hate crime on public transport and tackle attacks on Muslim women.

'Climate of hostility'

Figures released last week showed more than 6,000 alleged hate crimes and incidents were reported to police in England, Wales and Northern Ireland in four weeks from the middle of last month.

The daily rate peaked at 289 on 25 June, the day after the referendum result was announced.

The main type of offence reported over the month was "violence against the person", which includes harassment and common assault, as well as verbal abuse, spitting and "barging".

And Crown Prosecution Service figures released earlier this month showed it was prosecuting a record number of hate crimes.

The CPS prosecuted 15,442 such crimes in 2015-16 - a 4.8% rise on the previous year. There were 13,032 prosecutions for racially and religiously aggravated hate crime, with a conviction rate of 83.8%.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd said: "Hatred directed against any community, race or religion has no place whatsoever in our diverse society and it needs to be kicked to the kerb.

"At a time of increased concerns about a climate of hostility towards people who have come to live in our country, let me be absolutely clear that it is completely unacceptable for people to suffer abuse or attacks because of their nationality, ethnic background or colour of their skin.

"We will not stand for it."

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