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Hate Crimes

Volume 578: debated on Tuesday 25 March 2014

9. What discussions he has had with the Crown Prosecution Service on prosecuting crimes of violence against subcultures as hate crimes. (903272)

I pay tribute to the work the hon. Lady has done in this area. The CPS prosecutes violent offences robustly, including cases where victims have been attacked on the basis of subculture. Targeting particular groups is treated as an aggravating feature in such cases.

I thank the Minister for that response. As he is aware, I have been working with the Sophie Lancaster Foundation. She was killed seven years ago and her mother has been tirelessly campaigning for police forces to record such crimes as hate crimes. Might it be part of the sentencing guidelines given to courts that they can sentence specifically in relation to hate crimes?

At present statutory provisions cover cases motivated by hostility or prejudice based on race, religion, sexual orientation, disability or transgender identity, but none the less it is possible for a judge to sentence on the basis that the crime was motivated by hate of a different kind, as Judge Russell did in the case the hon. Lady mentioned, and to treat that as an aggravating feature. I think the hon. Lady is arranging a meeting at the House of Commons tomorrow at which the Sophie Lancaster Foundation will be having a listening event.