Rise in number of prosecutions for homophobic crime

The Crown Prosecution Service today released figures which show that 822 cases were identified as having a homophobic element in 2006-07.

478 resulted in a guilty plea and a further 124 resulted in conviction after trial.

The CPS said the conviction rate rose from 71% to 73.5% and that “homophobic crime is being tackled head on, and with success.”

Between April 2005 and March 2006, the CPS prosecuted 600 cases identified as having a homophobic element.

346 resulted in a guilty plea and a further 80 resulted in conviction after trial.

The statistics cover all 42 CPS Areas in England and Wales.

Among the convictions included in the 2006-07 figures were those of Thomas Pickford and Scott Walker.

In July 2006 they were sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum tariff of 28 years for the murder of Jody Dobrowski on Clapham Common, South London, on 15 October 2005.

It is believed that this was the first instance where a judge has been able to use motivation on the basis of sexual orientation as an aggravating factor when sentencing for murder.

The Director of Public Prosecutions, Sir Ken Macdonald QC, said:

“This rise in the conviction rate and a high number of guilty pleas underline our determination to tackle this type of hate crime with vigour.

“The increase in cases also suggests that the confidence to report these offences is growing. We believe this is a direct result of our growing success in prosecuting these particularly nasty crimes.”

There is no statutory definition of a homophobic or transphobic incident. However, when prosecuting such cases the CPS adopts the following definition: “Any incident which is perceived to be homophobic or transphobic by the victim or by any other person.”

Each CPS Area in England and Wales has at least one homophobic crime co-ordinator to provide guidance to prosecutors and agents, work closely with the local police and other agencies, advise prosecutors on victim and witness care issues and make links with the local LGBT community representatives.