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Monday, 9 February 2015

Labour pledges war on hate crime

The Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper will set out Labour’s strategy to tackle the rise in hate crime later this week. She will outline how Labour will challenge increases in antisemitism, Islamophobia, racist attacks, disability hate crime and attacks on the LGBT community through a new cross-Government strategy.

She will set out an action plan to tackle hate crime, including:

  • Strengthening the law so for the first time homophobic hate crime will be an aggravated criminal offence. As will hate crime against disabled people. This will be done following a thorough consultation and review of the relevant offences and the way to extend, as the Law Commission recommended. This will mean the law will treat homophobia and disability hate in the same way as racist hate crimes, which can be classified as ‘aggravated offences’.
  • We will also make changes to the criminal records framework so hate crimes are clearly marked on the criminal records of perpetrators and produce new guidance from the Sentencing Council to ensure the appropriate use of sentencing for aggravated sentencing for hate crimes, particularly for repeat offenders.
  • Reviewing police and CPS guidance to ensure antisemitism, Islamophobia and other hate crimes on social media are adequately covered.
  • A commitment to develop a cross-Departmental strategy for prevention of hate crime – including more support for programmes in schools that tackle antisemitism and Islamophobia, more action against homophobic bullying and targeting of disabled children.

And she will say that the Government have failed to do enough to respond to the rise in hate crime. They have failed to respond to the Law Commission report, which recommends changes to the criminal records system and to offences. And despite increases in reported hate crimes – and increases in antisemitism and Islamophobia picked up by community groups – the Government haven’t set out a strategy for prevention.

Launching Labour’s plan to tackle hate crime, Shadow Home Secretary, Yvette Cooper, is expected to say: "Hate crimes have no place in modern Britain. No one should fear being attacked because of their religion, their sexuality, the colour of their skin or their disability. Much more needs to be done to ensure those who commit these very serious crimes are brought to justice and this includes looking at where the law needs to be strengthened." 

Continuing Ms Copper is also expected to say: "But we also need to be looking at what more we can do to prevent discrimination, bigotry and hate taking hold in the first place. This includes work in schools to teach equality and the importance of understanding and respecting each other’s differences. And much more needs to be done to tackle hate crime online. Too often industry has been slow to respond to reports of their social media platforms being used to bully and abuse people or spread abhorrent ideology."

"The Government is not doing enough to tackle the rise in hate crime on its watch. Labour is determined that more should be done to stop the spread of hatred, hostility and division in our communities." Yvette Cooper is expected to add.