Prosecuting Biphobia

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has published an update on how it will prosecute hate crime and support victims in England and Wales. For the first time the CPS acknowledge 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.

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.

Some police forces such as that in Greater Manchester have started to tally biphobic hate incidents separately, 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 also published new legal guidance that sets out how prosecutors should make charging decisions and handle cases involving biphobia 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, taking into account the potential impact on both wider community and victim.
– CPS policy will now acknowledge that victims of biphobic hate crime have different experiences and needs to victims of homophobic and transphobic offences.
It’s not just biphobic hate being covered (we just found that the most interesting part, naturally!) – the CPS also for example talked about having a responsibility to remove barriers to justice for disabled victims and witnesses, to enable them to give their best evidence. So they are publishing an online support guide specifically for disabled victims and witnesses of crime.
The CPS marked 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.

Alison Saunders, the Director of Public Prosecutions, said: “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.”