Belfast Telegraph

UK Website Of The Year

Hate crime convictions rise for second year

Hate crime convictions have increased for the second consecutive year in Northern Ireland.

The Public Prosecution Service (PPS) said almost 95% of the most serious offenders were convicted at the Crown Court - a rise from 86.4% last year.

Director of Public Prosecutions Barra McGrory said: "The conviction rates being recorded are very reassuring."

Hate crimes involve incidents motivated by a person's race, religion, politics, sexual orientation or disability.

Last year the PPS received 570 files from police involving hate crime, just two fewer than the previous year. Most cases fell into two categories: violence against the person (49%) or public order (21%).

However, there was a drop in the number of files relating to sectarian hate crime, which fell from 253 during 2013/14 to 213 last year.

Of the 807 people prosecuted for hate crimes, 36 were dealt with in the Crown Court.

A total of 383 defendants appeared before judges in the magistrates' and youth courts, where 67.4% were convicted.

Last year the PPS prosecuted 549 for offences aggravated by hostility.

Of these, there was a decrease in the number of successful Crown Court prosecutions, where 46 of the 53 defendants (86.8%) were found guilty compared with 94.1% last year.

But the PPS recorded an improvement in magistrates' and youth court conviction rates, which rose from 63.7% in 2013/14 to 68.7% in 2014/15.

Of the 333 decisions for no prosecution issued, the vast majority (98%) did not pass the evidential test. The remaining 2% did not pass the public interest test.

Mr McGrory said the statistics represented results for the region's criminal justice agencies.

He said: "They show that the information we receive from the police, and the files we prepare, build a strong case for prosecution and that helps send out a message that hate crime will be dealt with in the strongest possible terms.

"Of course there is still work to be done and we will continue to work closely with a range of agencies to ensure the robust and effective prosecution of all such cases."


From Belfast Telegraph