Crown Prosecution Service recognises biphobia

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) this morning published an update on how it will prosecute hate crime and support victims in England and Wales. Included in them, for the first time the CPS acknowledges that victims of biphobic hate crime have different experiences and needs to victims of homophobic and transphobic offences and that we can be victims of hate crime based on sexual orientation from gay as well as straight people.

Some police forces such as that in Greater Manchester have started to record biphobic hate incidents separately, but up to now all national statistics have subsumed those into homophobic hate figures.

Amid rising volumes of reports to police, the CPS consulted community groups and criminal justice partners to produce these revised statements, covering the different strands of hate crime: racist and religious; disability; and homophobic, biphobic and transphobic.

The CPS has also today published revised legal guidance that sets out how prosecutors should make charging decisions and handle these cases in court.

Key points contained within the documents include:

  • In recognition of the growth of hate crime perpetrated using social media, a commitment to treat online crime as seriously as offline offences, while taking into account the potential impact on the wider community as well as the victim.
  • As mentioned earlier, for the first time, CPS policy will acknowledge that victims of biphobic hate crime have different experiences and needs to victims of homophobic and transphobic offences.
  • The CPS recognises it has a responsibility to actively remove barriers to justice for disabled victims and witnesses, ensuring they get the right support to enable them to give their best evidence.

The CPS is marking the publication of the documents with the launch of a social media campaign – #HateCrimeMatters – to encourage people to come forward and report hate crime incidents.

It is also publishing an online support guide specifically for disabled victims and witnesses of crime.

Alison Saunders, the Director of Public Prosecutions, said: “Hate crime has a corrosive effect on our society and that is why it is a priority area for the CPS. It can affect entire communities, forcing people to change their way of life and live in fear.

“These documents take account of the current breadth and context of offending to provide prosecutors with the best possible chance of achieving justice for victims. They also let victims and witnesses know what they should expect from us.

“I hope that, along with this week’s campaign, they will give people the confidence to come forward and report hate crime, in the knowledge that they will be taken seriously and given the support they need.”

A hate crime is an offence where the perpetrator is motivated by hostility or shows hostility towards the victim’s disability, race, religion, sexual orientation or transgender identity.