Academics have called for a new hate crime act and

first_imgAcademics have called for a new hate crime act and other key legal reforms to address the “huge justice gap” that affects victims of disability hate crime, following a major two-year study.Researchers at the University of Sussex, led by Dr Mark Walters*, have concluded that the way the criminal justice system deals with hate crime is significantly flawed, pointing to “the huge justice gap that exists for hate crime… which especially affects victims of disability hate crime”.The report, Hate Crime And The Legal Process – Options For Law Reform, funded by the European Union’s Justice and Consumers Department, calls for major changes to hate crime law.And it is critical of the government for failing to act, three years after the Law Commission called for a wider review of hate crime legislation in England and Wales, pointing out that the government has still failed to respond to those recommendations.Disability News Service has repeatedly reported on how the criminal justice system has failed to treat cases in which disabled people have been the victims of brutal and degrading assaults – many of them violent killings – as disability hate crimes.The researchers carried out in-depth interviews with senior Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) hate crime managers, judges, barristers, police officers, council staff, hate crime victims and staff at charities that support victims of hate crime.Of about 110,000 hate crimes reported to police every year**, only about four per cent (4,342) result in increased sentences on the basis of “identity-based hostility”, which the report’s authors say shows a “significant ‘justice gap’ for hate crime”.And they say that, despite “a myriad” of inquiries, guidance, research and lobbying by disability groups, much of the criminal justice system refuses to see the way that disabled people are often targeted by criminals as evidence of hostility.Instead, they say, disabled people are often labelled as “vulnerable” victims, a failure which “continues to inhibit the enforcement of laws that are aimed at protecting disabled people from hate crime”.One CPS manager told the study’s authors: “We’re very much trying to knock a square peg into a round hole trying to fit the facts into a form of language in the legislation that is not really designed to fit.”As a result, the authors want new legislation that would make it much easier to prove an offence is a hate crime.Instead of trying to prove a crime was motivated by hostility, they suggest a court should only have to prove that it was committed “by reason of” the victim’s disability, race, religion, sexual orientation, or transgender status.Another of their recommendations is that hate crime motivated by the victim’s disability, sexual orientation or transgender status should be treated in the same way as those motivated by race and religious-based hostility, under the Crime and Disorder Act.This would mean that section 28 of the act – which creates “racially or religiously aggravated offences” – would be extended to offences aggravated by hostility to disability, sexual orientation or transgender status.But the study’s authors say they would like the government to go even further.Because of the “piecemeal” way in which hate crime laws have been enacted over the last 20 years, there are now “different levels of legislative protection” for the current five recognised groups commonly targeted for hate crime.To replace this, they want to bring all existing hate crime laws into a new hate crime act, which would create a new “aggravated” criminal offence whenever there is sufficient evidence of a hate crime.The 214-page report raises detailed concerns about the way the criminal justice system deals with hate crime, particularly disability-related hostility.And it devotes a separate section of the report to disability hate crime, because the authors say that “problems with prosecuting and sentencing disability hate crimes were so prevalent” among the experts they interviewed.They say there is “a vast gap between the way that disability hate crimes are dealt with by the [criminal justice system] compared with other strands of hate crime”.And they say it became clear that “most of the problems preventing the successful application of hate crime law for disability hate crime remain”, four years after a joint criminal justice inspectorate report highlighted the serious concerns.One of the key concerns is the frequent refusal of judges to treat cases where an offender has selected a disabled victim because they are an easy target as evidence of disability-related hostility.Only 11 per cent of disability hate crime convictions result in an increased sentence under section 146 of the Criminal Justice Act, according to CPS figures.This means that, of the estimated 35,000 disability hate crimes reported to the police last year, just 84 – or 0.2 per cent – received a sentence uplift.In most case, the judges increase sentences instead on the grounds of the victim’s “vulnerability”, which the researchers say “can serve to perpetuate a false representation of disabled people as innately weak, and as somehow incapable of caring for themselves”.And they say it is “clear that most judges were yet to share this understanding of disability, or how labelling victims as ‘vulnerable’ can contribute to the marginalisation of many disabled people”.There are also repeated criticisms of police forces, with the study saying that a “significant proportion” of disability hate crimes are not identified correctly by officers, often even when there is “evidence of a disablist slur having been expressed during the commission of an offence”.Some CPS managers said police officers needed to be “more proactive” in producing the necessary evidence, while some prosecutors said some police officers were still not aware of hate crime sentencing laws affecting sexual orientation, transgender identity and disability.The study also says that officers can “overlook or fail to gather evidence” of disability hate crime.The report is less critical of prosecutors, and says that recent training of all CPS lawyers “has helped to improve the prosecution of disability hate crime”.And 12 years after the introduction of laws that allowed for sentences to be increased for hate crime offences – under sections 145 and 146 of the Criminal Justice Act – the study says there is still “widespread lack of awareness” of the measures, particularly among defence barristers and crown court judges.It says that many crown court judges remain “reluctant” to apply sections 145 and 146.The research, and the recommendations, were welcomed by Stephen Brookes, a coordinator of the Disability Hate Crime Network and an adviser to CPS and the Lancashire and West Yorkshire police forces on disability.He said: “We have always said that current UK hate crime legislation significantly fails to fully protect disabled people, whereas it gives better legal support and sentencing outcomes to other targeted people.“We have always insisted that simplification of the legislation of disability hate crime which will give greater clarity and reassurance to those who are targeted is essential and that they will benefit from the protection of better law, for without that robust framework disabled people don’t have a guarantee that being a victim of disability hate crime will lead to enforcement action. “We need the whole criminal justice system, and indeed politicians, to change their poor attitude towards disabled people who experience hatred routinely and make them commit to more consistently recognise the impact of disability hate crime by supporting clearer, stronger legislation and actively contribute to change our society for the benefit of all.”Walters told DNS: “If these options for reform are taken up by the government, I strongly believe that the criminal justice system will be better equipped to tackle the growing problems associated with hate crime in England and Wales.”He added: “There are four main recommendations for law reform summarised in the executive summary.“We recommend that these be considered by the government as soon as possible, in order to improve the operationalisation of the current framework of law.“It is clear that the government’s attentions are currently focused predominately on Brexit negotiation, but given the huge spikes in hate crime that have been recorded since the EU referendum in June 2016, it is incumbent upon the government to ensure that the law can effectively address what is clearly a growing social problem.”A Home Office spokeswoman failed to respond to questions about the content of the report and its recommendations, or the length of time the government had taken to respond to the Law Commission, which she said was the responsibility of the Ministry of Justice, which she said was “considering all of the options outlined by the Law Commission”.But she said in a statement: “All forms of hate crime, including disability hate crime, are completely unacceptable, and we are working hard to protect victims of these abhorrent crimes. “We already have a robust legislative framework to protect people from hate against all five of the monitored strands, including increased sentences where an offence was motivated by hostility or prejudice based on a person’s real or perceived disability.”She also pointed to the government’s “comprehensive Hate Crime Action Plan”.The action plan was criticised last year for its “totally disrespectful” and “unforgivable” failure to address disability hate crime.She also said the Home Office was “aware” of the new research.*The other authors were Dr Susann Wiedlitzka, Dr Abenaa Owusu-Bemaph, from the London School of Economics, and researcher Dr Kay Goodall**According to the Crime Survey for England and Waleslast_img read more

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KEIRON Cunningham says Saints are enjoying life at

first_imgKEIRON Cunningham says Saints are enjoying life at the top of the First Utility Super League table but they must continue to work hard on and off the field if they are to be successful.His words came after the 32-24 win over Warrington last Thursday.“We’re six from six and the players are enjoying their purple patch,” he said. “They are working hard off the field and are a great group of people too.“The systems at this club are second to none. Players enjoy coming into training; they work hard, have a laugh at the right times and work hard at the right times too. That is showing on the field – we work hard for each other.“When our lines are broken, we scramble, defend and do everything we possibly can to stop those tries. When they concede they are visibly upset.“Warrington are a great side and they will compete for everything this year. They beat Leeds convincingly and I knew we had a real challenge on our hands. But I also knew we had the beating of them if we did the right things.“The players handled it well but they made a couple of slack defensive decisions and were stinging from that.“But the scoreline was a little flattering I thought. We got the two points but would have liked to have done it in a grander style.“They got three barge overs and a charge down. They didn’t really earn the right to score – our systems and processes were really good, but we had a memory lapse and got burnt. The players are really hurting from that.“You have to tip your hat to the Wolves though; they are a real attacking threat and took their opportunities.“Having watched it again, across the board we were by far the better team.”Saints head into this Friday’s game at Hull KR seeking their first win in eight games at that venue.It’s a stat that’s alarming to some… but Keiron isn’t too fazed.“Hull KR is always a tough place to go and we know our track record there isn’t the greatest,” he continued. “But we can’t change what has happened there, it is the past and it won’t even come into my thinking in our preparations this week.“It is about what is happening this week and how you mentally prepare for that. I’d like to think we will fight for everything to get those two points. If we prepare well then we will be difficult to beat.“It will be tough to pick a side though. There is a lot competition for places and I don’t just base it on how they play.“It is how they are as a person and how they train. I like players who are the complete package, those who you would want to go to war with.”To see what tickets are now on sale click here.last_img read more

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WHERE has 2015 gone It only seems like yesterday

first_imgWHERE has 2015 gone? It only seems like yesterday that I was enjoying my Christmas dinner in 2014! However, time flies by and here we are at Christmas once again, writes Club Chaplain Paul Johnson.I wonder what Christmas is like in your home?For Rach and I, we go to our Christmas Eve service at tea time, enjoy a meal with friends and then a couple of drinks before settling into a Christmas movie and bed.Christmas Day begins with opening presents, before spending the day celebrating with family – usually including a game or two of Balderdash and feeling very full, after eating enough food for a week!Back in summer, we went on holiday to Kos. We witnessed, first hand, the refugees on the harbour and even had the privilege of helping some young families to safely leave a boat that had landed on our hotel’s beach.It was never scary or intimidating. Rather, it was very sad and challenging to think about the daily life of somebody for them to leave everything and take their chances in a dinghy on the open sea.It got me thinking about the end of the Christmas Story – the bit after the Wise Men have gone home. The bit where Mary and Joseph, fearing for Baby Jesus’ life, flee to Egypt and stay there until things have settled down back home. The bit where God became a refugee!This Christmas, let’s give a thought to those who will be displaced from their homes. Let’s remember those who don’t even have a home. Let’s be on the look out for our family, friends and neighbours, who may need somebody to lift their heads and make Christmas fun for them too.I believe that God loves it when we celebrate. Christmas is meant to be good fun and a time to enjoy being together with those whom we love. Although Jesus wasn’t born on December 25 , it is meant to be a birthday party!So, have a fantastic Christmas which is filled with love, laughter and joy. May 2016 be your best year yet and let’s shout the boys on to an incredible season! Not long left to wait now!last_img read more

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ITS part three of our on the field review today

first_imgIT’S part three of our ‘on the field’ review today – with July, August and September all featured.Please note that some of the Youtube links below may contain advertising that is no longer relevant. JulyA trip to Wakefield Wildcats was next with Greg Richards scoring his first ever try for the club in a breathtaking 44-32 win.Mark Percival’s penalty goal handed Saints a 12-10 win over Widnes Vikings before they won their fourth game on the bounce over at Huddersfield Giants 34-18.Jordan Turner announced he was joining Canberra Raiders at the end of the season and it was his partnership with Luke Walsh that was pivotal in the run.Andre Savelio moved on loan to Castleford Tigers – joining Travis Burns (Leigh) and Lewis Charnock (Bradford) with those seeking game time elsewhere. Later in the month Matty Dawson would make a permanent move to Leigh.Saints saved their best performance of the season in probably their most crucial match – away at Wigan Warriors. They dominated their nearest rivals in a stunning 23-4 victory that was built on solid defence.The 19s, coached by Derek Traynor, secured top spot with a 29-16 win over Warrington Wolves and would eventually finish the regular season unbeaten with 20 wins from 20.AugustSaints won their first game of the Super 8s phase with a 20-18 victory over Warrington Wolves at the Halliwell Jones Stadium. Jonny Lomax’ score the highlight of a dramatic win. It was their second win on the road in ‘Cheshire’ and their sixth on the run that would secure them a top four spot.Catalans Dragons were dispatched next, 39-16, Swift scoring another four tries. But they lost Luke Walsh and Luke Thompson to controversial bans after the match.Saints announced new deals for Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Calvin Wellington, Regan Grace, Ricky Bailey, Jake Spedding, Matty Fleming and Morgan Knowles but celebrations were tempered somewhat by a 25-0 loss at Wigan Warriors.NRL Centre Ryan Morgan put pen to paper on a three-year contract whilst Travis Burns announced he would join Wynnum Manly Seagulls next season.SeptemberSaints comfortably beat the newly crowned cup holders, Hull FC, 31-10 – a result that was “crucial to where we are heading” according to Cunningham – and they backed that up with a 40-16 thumping of Castleford Tigers just six days later.The Reserves completed their season with a 42-10 victory over Halifax – a result that left them top of the unofficial standings with 10 wins from 11 games for Ian Talbot’s side.Back to first team matters another trip to Widnes Vikings brought a 21-8 win, whilst the 19s reached their Grand Final with a stunning 46-6 win over the same team at Langtree Park. Very much deserved too!Saints concluded their 2016 Super 8s campaign with a 32-12 win over Wakefield – Shannon McDonnell grabbing a hat-trick to set up a semi final date with Warrington Wolves.And the 19s capped off a remarkable season in the most dramatic of fashions. Unbeaten throughout the year it took a Danny Richardson penalty in sudden death overtime to hand the side a 22-20 win over Wigan. Watch and enjoyLuke Douglas joined Saints from the Gold Coast on a three-year deal.Sadly, the first team couldn’t emulate the 19s efforts and were beaten 18-10 at the Wolves in the semi final. It was controversial as not only did Warrington have two tries awarded that looked less than clear cut on the video, but Dom Peyroux had one chalked off in the final stages that looked all the world a try…Our review concludes tomorrow with October through to December.last_img read more

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